Written by Garry Go
Some of the major functions of the alimentary tract include digestion, absorption,
elimination, and defence.
Characteristic of the upper alimentary tract is a stratified squamous epithelium
(flattened epithelial cells) variable in terms of thickness and permeability.
Upper GI tract includes:
A chaotropic agent denatures macromolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids.
Some notable agents that can affect the alimentary tract include acids,
formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, heavy metals (lead, mercury, etc.), and detergents.
Trichothecene mycotoxins (a toxic secondary metabolite produced by the organisms
of the fungi kingdom – like molds) are powerful inhibitors of protein synthesis. This is
done by interaction with the ribosomes – structures within the cell responsible for
These mycotoxins can cause rapid irritation to the skin or the intestinal mucosa upon
contact. They can cause lesions in the digestive tract.
T-2 toxin is known as the most toxic trichothecene. T-2 toxins have the capability to
inhibit eukaryotic protein synthesis as well as induce apoptosis. It has been shown
that T-2 toxins can inhibit proliferation and Ig production in human lymphocytes. T-2
toxins can upregulate procaspase 3 and caspase 3 – apoptotic factors.
Mild GI mucosal injury can manifest itself in pain, increased motility (vomiting,
diarrhea), increased secretion (mucous, water, protein), and reduced digestion and
absorption capabilities. Drugs such as NSAIDs, ibuprofen, and aspirin can cause ulcers as well as worsen
NSAIDs inhibit two enzymes: COX-1 and COX-2. Both of these enzymes are
responsible for the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins promote pain,
fever, and inflammation. COX-1 is responsible for the production of the
prostaglandin responsible for protecting the stomach’s lining. Inhibition of
cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) increases the risk of ulcer development. Platelet and
neutrophilic effects can b