Estrogen decreases tight junction protein ZO-1 expression in human primary gut tissues

Zejun Zhou, Lumin Zhang, Miao Ding, Zhenwu Luo, Shao Yuan, Meena B. Bansal, Gary Gilkeson, Ren Lang, Wei Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Females have a higher prevalence of most autoimmune diseases; however, the mechanism is unknown. In this study, we examined the expression of tight junction protein zonula occludens 1 (ZO-1) and estrogen receptor (ER)-α/β in human primary gut tissues by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence and qPCR. The expression of ZO-1 and ER-β but not ER-α was present in both male and female gut tissues. There was no sex difference in ER-β expression, but ZO-1 expression was decreased in females compared to males. In vitro, estrogen treatment decreased ZO-1 mRNA and protein expression, ZO-1 promoter activity, IL-6 production, and NF-κB activation in human primary gut tissues or the Caco-2 cells, but increased the ER-β expression in Caco-2 cells. Consistently, plasma IL-6 levels in females were reduced relative to males in vivo. Our finding indicates that estrogen may play a role in gut tight junction expression and permeability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-180
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Immunology
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Sex differences
  • ZO-1
  • estrogen
  • gut tissues


Dive into the research topics of 'Estrogen decreases tight junction protein ZO-1 expression in human primary gut tissues'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this