Breaching the gut-vascular barrier

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Science  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6262, pp. 742-743
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad6768

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The intestinal barrier plays a critical role in health and disease by limiting systemic dissemination of microbes and toxins while allowing nutrients to access the circulation (1). The portal venous system ensures that substances absorbed in the intestine transit first through the liver, where they can be further metabolized and detoxified (2). Moreover, it is thought that the liver can play a role in tolerance (3). On page 830 of this issue, Spadoni et al. (4) characterize the gut-vascular barrier (GVB) and propose how bacteria can disrupt it, allowing their passage into the bloodstream and spread to the liver and spleen.