Lung epithelial cells interconnected by tight junctions provide a barrier to the free diffusion of solutes into airspaces. Transmembrane tight junction proteins known as claudins are essential for epithelial barrier function. Claudins are regulated through interactions with each other that are coordinated with other transmembrane tight junction proteins and cytosolic scaffold proteins. Of the 14 claudins expressed by the alveolar epithelium, claudin-3, claudin-4, and claudin-18 are the most prominent; each confers unique properties to alveolar barrier function. In particular, a protective role for claudin-4 in preventing lung injury has emerged. By contrast, lung diseases that affect claudin expression and impair barrier function, including alcoholic lung syndrome and sepsis, prime the lung for pulmonary edema. Thus, approaches to restore and/or augment lung claudin expression provide potential targets for promoting healthy barrier function.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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