Purpose: The nasal mucosa is the first site to encounter pathogens, and it forms continuous barriers to various stimuli. This barrier function is very important in the innate defense mechanism. Additionally, inflammation of the nasal sinus is known to be a hypoxic condition. Here, we studied the effect of hypoxia on barrier func-tion in normal human nasal epithelial (NHNE) cells. Materials and Methods: The expression levels of various junction complex proteins were assessed in hy-poxia-stimulated NHNE cells and human nasal mucosal tissues. We performed re-al-time polymerase chain reaction analysis, western blotting, and immunofluores-cence assays to examine differences in the mRNA and protein expression of ZO-1, a tight junction protein, and E-cadherin in NHNE cells. Moreover, we evaluated the trans-epithelial resistance (TER) of NHNE cells under hypoxic conditions to check for changes in permeability. The expression of ZO-1 and E-cadherin was measured in human nasal mucosa samples by western blotting. Results: Hypoxia time-dependently decreased the expression of ZO-1 and E-cadherin at the gene and protein levels. In addition, hypoxia decreased the TER of NHNE cells, which indicates increased permeability. Human nasal mucosa samples, which are sup-posed to be hypoxic, showed significantly decreased levels of ZO-1 and E-cad-herin expression compared with control. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that hypoxia altered the expression of junction complex molecules and increased epithelial permeability in human nasal epithelia. This suggests that hypoxia causes barrier dysfunction. Furthermore, it may be associated with innate immune dys-function after encountering pathogens.
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