Nutrient absorption is the basic function that drives mammalian intestinal biology. To facilitate nutrient uptake, the host's epithelial barrier is composed of a single layer of cells. This constraint is problematic, as a design of this type can be easily disrupted. The solution during the course of evolution was to add numerous host defense mechanisms that can help prevent local and systemic infection. These mechanisms include specialized epithelial cells that produce a physiochemical barrier overlying the cellular barrier, robust and organized adaptive and innate immune cells, and the ability to mount an inflammatory response that is commensurate with a specific threat level. The autophagy pathway is a critical cellular process that strongly influences all these functions. Therefore, a fundamental understanding of the components of this pathway and their influence on inflammation, immunity, and barrier function will facilitate our understanding of homeostasis in the gastrointestinal tract.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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