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  • Gut 11/2013; 63(7). DOI:10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306240
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    ABSTRACT: Linaclotide is a minimally absorbed agonist of guanylate cyclase-C (GUCY2C or GC-C) that reduces symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). Little is known about the mechanism by which linaclotide reduces abdominal pain in patients with IBS-C. We determined the effects of linaclotide on colonic sensory afferents in healthy mice and those with chronic visceral hypersensitivity. We assessed pain transmission by measuring activation of dorsal horn neurons in the spinal cord in response to noxious colorectal distention. Levels of Gucy2c mRNA were measured in tissues from mice using quantitative reverse transcription PCR and in situ hybridization. We used human intestinal cell lines to measure release of cGMP by linaclotide. We performed a post-hoc analysis of data from a Phase 3, double-blind, parallel-group study in which 805 patients with IBS-C were randomly assigned to groups given an oral placebo or 290μg linaclotide, once daily for 26 weeks. We quantified changes in IBS-C symptoms, including abdominal pain. In mice, linaclotide inhibited colonic nociceptors, with greater efficacy during chronic visceral hypersensitivity. Intra-colonic administration of linaclotide reduced signaling of noxious colorectal distention to the spinal cord. The colonic mucosa, but not neurons, were found to express linaclotide's target, GC-C. The downstream effector of GC-C, cyclic-guanosine- 3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP), was released following administration of linaclotide and also inhibited nociceptors. The effects of linaclotide were lost in Gucy2c -/- mice and prevented by inhibiting cGMP transporters or removing the mucosa. Over 26 weeks of linaclotide administration, a significantly greater percentage of patients (70%) had at least a 30% reduction in abdominal pain, compared with patients given placebo (50%). We have identified an analgesic mechanism of linaclotide: it activates GC-C expressed on mucosal epithelial cells, resulting in the production and release of cGMP. This extracellular cGMP acts on and inhibits nociceptors, thereby reducing nociception. We also found that linaclotide reduces chronic abdominal pain in patients with IBS-C.
    Gastroenterology 08/2013; 145(6). DOI:10.1053/j.gastro.2013.08.017
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    ABSTRACT: Neuropeptide W (NPW) is an endogenous ligand for the receptors GPR7 and GPR8 and is involved in central regulation of energy homeostasis. NPW in the periphery is found in gastric gastrin (G)-cells. In the stomach, energy intake is influenced by vagal afferent signals so we aimed to determine the effect of NPW on mechanosensitive gastric vagal afferents under different feeding conditions. Female C57BL/6 mice (N >10/group) were fed a standard laboratory diet (SLD), high fat diet (HFD), or were food restricted. The relationship between NPW immunopositive cells and gastric vagal afferent endings was determined by anterograde tracing and NPW immunohistochemistry. An in vitro gastro-oesophageal preparation was used to determine the functional effects of NPW on gastric vagal afferents. Expression of NPW in the gastric mucosa and GPR7 in whole nodose ganglia was determined by quantitative RT-PCR (QRT-PCR). The expression of GPR7 in gastric vagal afferent neurons was determined by retrograde tracing and QRT-PCR. NPW immunoreactive cells were found in close proximity to traced vagal afferents. NPW selectively inhibited responses of gastric vagal tension receptors to stretch in SLD but not HFD or fasted mice. In the nodose ganglia, GPR7 mRNA was specifically expressed in gastric vagal afferent neurons. In fasted mice gastric mucosal NPW and nodose GPR7 mRNA was reduced compared to SLD. A HFD had no effect on gastric NPW mRNA, but down-regulated nodose GPR7 expression. NPW modulates gastric vagal afferent activity, but the effect is dynamic and related to feeding status. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Acta Physiologica 08/2013; 209(2). DOI:10.1111/apha.12154
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    ABSTRACT: The transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel is critical for spinal afferent signaling of burning pain throughout the body. Such pain frequently originates from the esophagus, following acid reflux. The contribution of TRPV1 to spinal nociceptor signaling from the esophagus remains unclear. We aimed to identify the spinal afferent pathways that convey nociceptive signaling from the esophagus, specifically those sensitive to acid, and the extent to which TRPV1 contributes. Acid/pepsin (150 mM HCl/1 mg mL(-1) pepsin) or saline/pepsin was perfused into the esophageal lumen of anesthetized wild-type and TRPV1 null mice over 20 min, followed by atraumatic perfuse fixation and removal of the cervical and thoracic spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (DRG). To identify neurons responsive to esophageal perfusate, immunolabeling for neuronal activation marker phosphorylated extracellular receptor-regulated kinase (pERK) was used. Labeling for calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and isolectin B4 (IB4) was then used to characterize responsive neurons. Esophageal acid/pepsin perfusion significantly increased the number of pERK-immunoreactive (IR) neurons in the DRG and the cervical and thoracic spinal cord dorsal horn (DH) relative to saline/pepsin (DRG P < 0.01; cervical DH P < 0.05 and thoracic DH P < 0.005). The number of pERK-IR neurons following acid perfusion was significantly attenuated in TRPV1 -/- mice (DH P < 0.05 and DRG P < 0.05). This study has identified populations of spinal afferent DRG neurons and DH neurons involved in signaling of noxious acid from the esophagus. There is a major contribution of TRPV1 to signaling within these pathways.
    Neurogastroenterology and Motility 07/2013; 25(10). DOI:10.1111/nmo.12180
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    ABSTRACT: Leptin, ghrelin and neuropeptide W (NPW) modulate vagal afferent activity, which may underlie their appetite regulatory actions. High fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity induces changes in the plasma levels of these peptides and alters the expression of receptors on vagal afferents. We investigated homologous and heterologous receptor regulation by leptin, ghrelin and NPW. Mice were fed (12-weeks) a standard laboratory diet (SLD) or HFD. Nodose ganglia were cultured overnight in the presence or absence of each peptide. Leptin (LepR), ghrelin (GHS-R), NPW (GPR7) and cholecystokinin type-1 (CCK1R) receptor mRNA, and the plasma leptin, ghrelin and NPW levels were measured. SLD: leptin reduced LepR, GPR7, increased GHS-R and CCK1R mRNA; ghrelin increased LepR, GPR7, CCK1R, and decreased GHS-R. HFD: leptin decreased GHS-R and GPR7, ghrelin increased GHS-R and GPR7. NPW decreased all receptors except GPR7 which increased with HFD. Plasma leptin was higher and NPW lower in HFD. Thus, HFD-induced obesity disrupts inter-regulation of appetite regulatory receptors in vagal afferents.
    Peptides 06/2013; 46. DOI:10.1016/j.peptides.2013.06.004
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    ABSTRACT: Energy intake is strongly influenced by vagal afferent signals from the stomach, and is also modulated by leptin. Leptin may be secreted from gastric epithelial cells, so we aimed to determine the direct effect of leptin on gastric vagal afferents under different feeding conditions. Female C57BL/6 mice were fed standard laboratory diet, high fat diet or were food restricted. The expression of leptin receptor and its signal transduction molecules in vagal afferents was determined by retrograde tracing and reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and the relationship between leptin immunopositive cells and gastric vagal afferent endings determined by anterograde tracing and leptin immunohistochemistry. An in vitro preparation was used to determine the functional effects of leptin on gastric vagal afferents and the second messenger pathways involved. Leptin potentiated vagal mucosal afferent responses to tactile stimuli, and epithelial cells expressing leptin were found close to vagal mucosal endings. After fasting or diet-induced obesity, potentiation of mucosal afferents by leptin was lost and leptin receptor expression reduced in the cell bodies of gastric mucosal afferents. These effects in diet-induced obese mice were accompanied by a reduction in anatomical vagal innervation of the gastric mucosa. In striking contrast, after fasting or diet-induced obesity, leptin actually inhibited responses to distension in tension receptors. The inhibitory effect on gastric tension receptors was mediated through PI3K-dependent activation of BKCa channels. The excitatory effect of leptin on gastric mucosal vagal afferents was mediated by PLC-dependent activation of TRPC1 channels. These data suggest the effect of leptin on gastric vagal afferent excitability is dynamic and related to the feeding state. Paradoxically, in obesity, leptin may reduce responses to gastric distension following food intake.
    The Journal of Physiology 12/2012; 591(7). DOI:10.1113/jphysiol.2012.247577
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    ABSTRACT: Guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C) is a transmembrane receptor activated by bacterial heat-stable enterotoxins and by the endogenous hormones guanylin and uroguanylin. GC-C plays key roles in the regulation of intestinal fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. This is highlighted by several recently identified human mutations in GUCY2C, the gene encoding GC-C, which leads to the respective gain or loss of function of GC-C, resulting in profound effects on gastrointestinal function. However, a wealth of recent studies indicates GC-C signalling extends to a multitude of diverse additional functions. Recent pre-clinical and clinical studies demonstrate a novel first-in-class GC-C activating peptide, Linaclotide, provides effective relief from constipation and abdominal pain in patients with chronic constipation and constipation-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Accumulating evidence also suggests GC-C plays protective roles in mucosal barrier function, tissue injury and inflammation, whilst GC-C signalling is a key regulator of intestinal cell proliferation and apoptosis. Finally, recently identified extra-intestinal GC-C signalling pathways make novel contributions to the regulation of food intake and symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Consequently, these findings provide GC-C expression and its associated mutations as potential diagnostic markers for disease. They also provide current and future therapeutic potential for GC-C signalling within and outside the gastrointestinal tract.
    Current Opinion in Pharmacology 11/2012; 12(6). DOI:10.1016/j.coph.2012.10.005
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    ABSTRACT: Visceral pain following infection or inflammation is a major clinical problem. Although we have knowledge of how peripheral endings of colonic afferents change in disease, their central projections have been overlooked. With neuroanatomical tracing and colorectal distension (CRD), we sought to identify colonic afferent central terminals (CACTs), the dorsal horn (DH) neurons activated by colonic stimuli in the thoracolumbar (T10-L1) DH, and determine how they are altered by postinflammatory chronic colonic mechanical hypersensitivity. Retrograde tracing from the colon identified CACTs in the DH, whereas immunohistochemistry for phosphorylated MAP kinase ERK 1/2 (pERK) identified DH neurons activated by CRD (80 mmHg). In healthy mice, CACTs were located primarily in DH laminae I (LI) and V (LV) and projected down middle and lateral DH collateral pathways. CRD evoked pERK immunoreactivity in DH neurons, the majority of which were located in LI and LV, the same regions as CACTs. In postinflammatory mice, CACTs were significantly increased in T12-L1 compared with healthy mice. Although CACTs remained abundant in LI, they were more widespread and were now present in deeper laminae. After CRD, significantly more DH neurons were pERK-IR postinflammation (T12-L1), with abundant expression in LI and deeper laminae. In both healthy and postinflammatory mice, many pERK neurons were in close apposition to CACTs, suggesting that colonic afferents can stimulate specific DH neurons in response to noxious CRD. Overall, we demonstrate that CACT density and the number of responsive DH neurons in the spinal cord increase postinflammation, which may facilitate aberrant central representation of colonic nociceptive signaling following chronic peripheral hypersensitivity.
    The Journal of Comparative Neurology 07/2012; 520(10):2241-55. DOI:10.1002/cne.23042
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    ABSTRACT: Significant relationships exist between areal bone mineral density (BMD) derived from dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and bone strength. However, the predictive validity of BMD for osteoporotic vertebral fractures remains suboptimal. The diagnostic sensitivity of DXA in the lumbar spine may be improved by assessing BMD from lateral-projection scans, as these might better approximate the objective of measuring the trabecular-rich bone in the vertebral body, compared to the commonly-used posterior-anterior (PA) projections. Nowadays, X-ray micro-computed tomography (μCT) allows non-destructive three-dimensional structural characterization of entire bone segments at high resolution. In this study, human lumbar cadaver spines were examined ex situ by DXA in lateral and PA projections, as well as by μCT, with the aims (1) to investigate the ability of bone quantity measurements obtained by DXA in the lateral projection and in the PA projection, to predict variations in bone quantity measurements obtained by μCT, and (2) to assess their respective capabilities to predict whole vertebral body strength, determined experimentally. Human cadaver spines were scanned by DXA in PA projections and lateral projections. Bone mineral content (BMC) and BMD for L2 and L3 vertebrae were determined. The L2 and L3 vertebrae were then dissected and entirely scanned by μCT. Total bone volume (BV(tot)=cortical+trabecular), trabecular bone volume (BV), and trabecular bone volume fraction (BV/TV) were calculated over the entire vertebrae. The vertebral bodies were then mechanically tested to failure in compression, to determine ultimate load. The variables BV(tot), BV, and BV/TV measured by μCT were better predicted by BMC and BMD measured by lateral-projection DXA, with higher R(2) values and smaller standard errors of the estimate (R(2)=0.65-0.90, SEE=11%-18%), compared to PA-projection DXA (R(2)=0.33-0.53, SEE=22%-34%). The best predictors of ultimate load were BV(tot) and BV assessed by μCT (R(2)=0.88 and R(2)=0.81, respectively), and BMC and BMD from lateral-projection DXA (R(2)=0.82 and R(2)=0.70, respectively). Conversely, BMC and BMD from PA-projection DXA were lower predictors of ultimate load (R(2)=0.49 and R(2)=0.37, respectively). This ex vivo study highlights greater capabilities of lateral-projection DXA to predict variations in vertebral body bone quantity as measured by μCT, and to predict vertebral strength as assessed experimentally, compared to PA-projection DXA. This provides basis for further exploring the clinical application of lateral-projection DXA analysis.
    Bone 03/2012; 50(6):1416-25. DOI:10.1016/j.bone.2012.03.002
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    ABSTRACT: Intestinal luminal exposure to glucose initiates changes in food intake and gastrointestinal (GI) motor and secretory function. It does this by stimulating the release of GI hormones and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) from enteroendocrine and enterochromaffin cells (EC), respectively, which in turn activate intrinsic and extrinsic neuronal pathways. An article in this issue of the journal provides new insight into the mechanisms involved in luminal glucose sensing. Vincent et al. have used a novel in vivo technique to determine activation of gut epithelial cells and vagal afferent pathways in rats by staining for activated calcium-calmodulin kinase II (pCaMKII) along the pathway. In the mucosa, they found that intraluminal glucose activated EC cells and brush cells. At the next stage, pCaMKII was seen in neurons of the myenteric plexus and vagal afferent neurons in the nodose ganglia. In the central nervous system (CNS), activation was seen in second- and higher-order neurons in the dorsal vagal complex and hypothalamus. They found that 5-HT(3) receptors were involved in initiating neural signaling as activation of neurons, but not EC cells, was reduced by 5-HT(3) receptor antagonism. Selectively stimulating the sodium-glucose cotransporter (SGLT-3) had similar effects to glucose. This suggests that SGLT-3 behaves as a glucose sensor, mainly on EC cells, inducing the release of 5-HT, which activates 5-HT(3) receptors on vagal afferent endings nearby and in turn, their connections in the CNS. There is evidence elsewhere that other sensors and transmitter mechanisms are involved in this pathway, so the possibility exists of multiple redundant systems.
    Neurogastroenterology and Motility 07/2011; 23(7):591-4. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2982.2011.01719.x
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