Núria Piqué, María del Carmen Gómez-Guillén and María Pilar Montero
Disruption of the epithelial barrier function has been recently associated with a variety of diseases, mainly at intestinal level, but also affecting the respiratory epithelium and other mucosal barriers. Non-pharmacological approaches such as xyloglucan, with demonstrated protective barrier properties, are proposed as new alternatives for the management of a wide range of diseases, for which mucosal disruption and, particularly, tight junction alterations, is a common characteristic. Xyloglucan, a natural polysaccharide derived from tamarind seeds, possesses a “mucin-like” molecular structure that confers mucoadhesive properties, allowing xyloglucan formulations to act as a barrier capable of reducing bacterial adherence and invasion and to preserve tight junctions and paracellular flux, as observed in different in vitro and in vivo studies. In clinical trials, xyloglucan has been seen to reduce symptoms of gastroenteritis in adults and children, nasal disorders and dry eye syndrome. Similar mucosal protectors containing reticulated proteins have also been useful for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and urinary tract infections. The role of xyloglucan in other disorders with mucosal disruption, such as dermatological or other infectious diseases, deserves further research. In conclusion, xyloglucan, endowed with film-forming protective barrier properties, is a safe non-pharmacological alternative for the management of different diseases, such as gastrointestinal and nasal disorders.
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