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Mucosal barrier function and the commensal flora
  1. R J Kennedy1,
  2. S J Kirk1,
  3. K R Gardiner1
  1. 1Department of Surgery, the Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Mr R J Kennedy, Department of Surgery, Institute of Clinical Science, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BJ, UK;

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We read with interest the article by Garcia-Lafuente et al (Gut 2001;48:503–7). Their results demonstrate that strains of endemic gut bacteria can affect gut mucosal barrier function, as measured by intestinal permeability, and that the effect may be potentially beneficial or harmful depending on the specific bacterial strains administered.

These findings help to explain and corroborate the interesting findings that have been emerging from clinical and experimental studies investigating the use of probiotics in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is known that development of colonic inflammation in genetic models of IBD is dependent on the presence of intestinal bacteria. In human studies, an imbalance …

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