Which of the following would most likely happen if the epithelial cells in the stomach failed to produce mucus?
The entire gastrointestinal epithelium is coated with this mucus. Cells will form the part of the epithelium. This mucus serves as very important role in mitigating the shear stress on the epithelium. I can think of several ways this mucus is important for this. It is also very important for the epithelium, to be intact. If it isn't, toxins and microorganisms have a way to enter into the single layer of epithelium cells and they will have access to the systemic circulation. The mucus is needed, to protect our stomach lining. This is because the stomach produces hydrochloric acids, that are very strong. This is very important for the break-down of our food and/or other microorganisms, that have happened to attach to our food, from the traveling ride, to the stomach. Now, the inner lining of the stomach has a mucus lining, that will be a protective barrier, for the digestive tract epithelium cells. Below that mucus is the epithelium cells, which provide protection from the stomach harsh environment. The stomach may even destroy itself, in just a few days, without these cells. When the half of the million cells is destroyed, they then regenerated every minute. Because of this, you get a new stomach lining every three days--if you were healthy. So without this mucus, the helicobacter pylori will survive in the stomach and it will damage the stomach, just as fast as acid does. Now when this happens, an ulcer will form, the mucus barrier fails, and the epithelium cells are destroyed even faster. This ulcer will be identified as sores, it can be very uncomfortable when you eat, and can even spread throughout your stomach, if it not treated immediately. Hope that helps! n_n
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