Mesothelial cells and peritoneal homeostasis

Mesothelium helps to maintain serosal homeostasis, but injury with incomplete regeneration can lead to adhesion formation with serious clinical consequences. Current treatments are ineffective, but mesothelial cell transplantation is a promising approach.

Volume 106, Issue 5, Pages 1018-1024


Steven Eugene Mutsaers, Ph.D., Cecilia Marie-Antoinette Prêle, Ph.D., Steven Pengelly, M.B.Ch.B., Sarah Elizabeth Herrick, Ph.D.


The mesothelium was traditionally thought to be a simple tissue with the sole function of providing a slippery, nonadhesive, and protective surface to allow easy movement of organs within their body cavities. However, our knowledge of mesothelial cell physiology is rapidly expanding, and the mesothelium is now recognized as a dynamic cellular membrane with many other important functions. When injured, mesothelial cells initiate a cascade of processes leading either to complete regeneration of the mesothelium or the development of pathologies such as adhesions. Normal mesothelial healing is unique in that, unlike with other epithelial-like surfaces, healing appears diffusely across the denuded surface, whereas for epithelium healing occurs solely at the wound edges. This is because of a free-floating population of mesothelial cells which attach to the injured serosa. Taking advantage of this phenomenon, intraperitoneal injections of mesothelial cells have been assessed for their ability to prevent adhesion formation. This review discusses some of the functions of mesothelial cells regarding maintenance of serosal integrity and outlines the mechanisms involved in mesothelial healing. In addition, the pathogenesis of adhesion formation is discussed with particular attention to the potential role of mesothelial cells in both preventing and inducing their development.

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