[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The etiopathogenesis of the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), one of the most prevalent gastrointestinal disorders, is not well known. The most accepted hypothesis is that IBS is the result of the disturbance of the 'brain-gut axis.' Although the pathophysiological mechanisms of intestinal dysfunction are complex and not completely understood, stress, infections, gut flora, and altered immune response are thought to play a role in IBS development. The intestinal barrier, composed of a single-cell layer, forms a physical barrier that separates the intestinal lumen from the internal milieu. The loss of integrity of this barrier is related with mucosal immune activation and intestinal dysfunction in IBS. The number of mast cells and T lymphocytes is increased in the intestinal mucosa of certain IBS patients, and the mediators released by these cells could compromise the epithelial barrier function and alter nerve signaling within the enteric nervous system. The association of clinical symptoms to structural and functional abnormalities of the mucosal barrier in IBS patients highlights the importance of understanding the physiological role of the gut barrier in the pathogenesis of this disorder. This review summarizes the clinical and experimental evidences indicating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of IBS symptomatology, and its relevance for future translational research.
Gut and liver 07/2012; 6(3):305-15. · 1.31 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: Recently, the authors demonstrated altered gene expression in the jejunal mucosa of diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome patients (IBS-D); specifically, the authors showed that genes related to mast cells and the intercellular apical junction complex (AJC) were expressed differently than in healthy subjects. The aim of the authors here was to determine whether these alterations are associated with structural abnormalities in AJC and their relationship with mast cell activation and IBS-D clinical manifestations. DESIGN: A clinical assessment and a jejunal biopsy were obtained in IBS-D patients (n=45) and healthy subjects (n=30). Mucosal mast cell number and activation were determined by quantifying CD117(+) cells/hpf and tryptase expression, respectively. Expression and distribution of AJC specific proteins were evaluated by western blot and confocal microscopy. AJC ultrastructure was assessed by transmission electron microscopy. RESULTS: Compared with healthy subjects, IBS-D patients exhibited: (a) increased mast cell counts and activation; (b) increased protein expression of claudin-2, reduced occludin phosphorylation and enhanced redistribution from the membrane to the cytoplasm; and (c) increased myosin kinase expression, reduced myosin phosphatase and, consequently, enhanced phosphorylation of myosin. These molecular alterations were associated with ultrastructural abnormalities at the AJC, specifically, perijunctional cytoskeleton condensation and enlarged apical intercellular distance. Moreover, AJC structural alterations positively correlated both with mast cell activation and clinical symptoms. CONCLUSION: The jejunal mucosa of IBS-D patients displays disrupted apical junctional complex integrity associated with mast cell activation and clinical manifestations. These results provide evidence for the organic nature of IBS-D, a heretofore model disease of functional gastrointestinal disorders.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intestinal epithelial dysfunction is a common pathophysiologic feature in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients and might be the link to its clinical manifestations. We previously showed that chronic psychosocial stress induces jejunal epithelial barrier dysfunction; however, whether this epithelial response is gender-specific and might thus explain the enhanced female susceptibility to IBS remains unknown.
Intestinal responses to acute stress were compared in age-matched groups of healthy women and men (n = 10 each) experiencing low background stress. A 20-cm jejunal segment, was perfused with an isosmotic solution, and intestinal effluents were collected under basal conditions, for 15 min during cold pain stress and for a 45-min recovery period. Epithelial function (net water flux and albumin output), changes in stress hormones, and cardiovascular and psychologic responses to cold stress were measured.
Heart rate and blood pressure significantly increased during cold pain stress with no differences between men and women. Adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol levels during cold pain stress were significantly higher in men. Basal net water flux and epithelial permeability were similar in men and women. Cold pain stress increased water flux in both groups (72 ± 23 and 107 ± 18 μL min(-1) cm(-1) , respectively; F(5, 90) = 5.5; P = 0.003 for Time) and, interestingly, this was associated with a marked increase of albumin permeability in women but not in men (0.8 ± 0.2 vs.-0.7 ± 0.2 mg/15 min; P < 0.0001).
Intestinal macromolecular permeability in response to acute experimental stress is increased in healthy women, a mechanism that may contribute to female oversusceptibility to IBS.
Neurogastroenterology and Motility 05/2012; 24(8):740-6, e348-9. · 2.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) patients show altered epithelial permeability and mucosal micro-inflammation in both proximal and distal regions of the intestine. The objective of this study was to determine the molecular events and mechanisms and the clinical role of upper small intestinal alterations.
Clinical assessment and a jejunal biopsy was obtained in IBS-D patients and healthy subjects. Routine histology and immunohistochemistry was performed in all participants to assess the number of mast cells (MCs) and intraepithelial lymphocytes. RNA in tissue samples was isolated to identify genes showing consistent differential expression by microarray analysis followed by pathway and network analysis in order to identify the biological functions of the differentially expressed genes in IBS-D. Gene and protein expression of tight junction (TJ) components was also assessed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and confocal microscopy to evaluate the pathways identified by gene expression analysis.
The analysis reveals a strong association between the transcript signature of the jejunal mucosa of IBS-D and intestinal permeability, MC biology, and TJ signaling. The expression of zonula occludens 1 (ZO-1) was reduced in IBS-D at both gene and protein level, with protein redistribution from the TJ to the cytoplasm. Remarkably, our analysis disclosed significant correlation between ZO proteins, MC activation, and clinical symptoms.
IBS-D manifestations are linked to molecular alterations involving MC-related dysregulation of TJ functioning in the jejunal mucosa.
The American Journal of Gastroenterology 03/2012; 107(5):736-46. · 7.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The association between psychological and environmental stress with functional gastrointestinal disorders, especially irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is well established. However, the underlying pathogenic mechanisms remain unknown. We aimed to probe chronic psychosocial stress as a primary inducer of intestinal dysfunction and investigate corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) signaling and mitochondrial damage as key contributors to the stress-mediated effects. Wistar-Kyoto rats were submitted to crowding stress (CS; 8 rats/cage) or sham-crowding stress (SC; 2 rats/cage) for up to 15 consecutive days. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity was evaluated. Intestinal tissues were obtained 1h, 1, 7, or 30 days after stress exposure, to assess neutrophil infiltration, epithelial ion transport, mitochondrial function, and CRF receptors expression. Colonic response to CRF (10 μg/kg i.p.) and hyperalgesia were evaluated after ending stress exposure. Chronic psychosocial stress activated HPA axis and induced reversible intestinal mucosal inflammation. Epithelial permeability and conductance were increased in CS rats, effect that lasted for up to 7 days after stress cessation. Visceral hypersensitivity persisted for up to 30 days post stress. Abnormal colonic response to exogenous CRF lasted for up to 7 days after stress. Mitochondrial activity was disturbed throughout the intestine, although mitochondrial response to CRF was preserved. Colonic expression of CRF receptor type-1 was increased in CS rats, and negatively correlated with body weight gain. In conclusion, chronic psychosocial stress triggers reversible inflammation, persistent epithelial dysfunction, and colonic hyperalgesia. These findings support crowding stress as a suitable animal model to unravel the complex pathophysiology underlying to common human intestinal stress-related disorders, such as IBS.