[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TRPA1 is an ion channel that detects specific chemicals in food and also transduces mechanical, cold and chemical stimulation. Its presence in sensory nerve endings is well known and recent evidence indicates that it is expressed by some gastrointestinal enteroendocrine cells (EEC). The purpose of the present work is to identify and quantify EEC that express TRPA1 in the mouse gastrointestinal tract. Combined in situ hybridisation histochemistry for TRPA1 and immunofluorescence for EEC hormones was used. TRPA1 expressing EEC were common in the duodenum and jejunum, were rare in the distal small intestine and were absent from the stomach and large intestine. In the duodenum and jejunum, TRPA1 occurred in EEC that contained both cholecystokinin (CCK) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5HT) and in a small number of cells expressing 5HT but not CCK. TRPA1 was absent from CCK cells that did not express 5HT and from EEC containing glucagon-like insulinotropic peptide. Thus TRPA1 is contained in very specific EEC populations. It is suggested that foods such as garlic and cinnamon that contain TRPA1 stimulants may aid digestion by facilitating the release of CCK.
Cell and Tissue Research 01/2014; · 3.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mucosal-associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells) express a semi-invariant T cell receptor (TCR) α-chain, TRAV1-2-TRAJ33, and are activated by vitamin B metabolites bound by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-related class I-like molecule, MR1. Understanding MAIT cell biology has been restrained by the lack of reagents to specifically identify and characterize these cells. Furthermore, the use of surrogate markers may misrepresent the MAIT cell population. We show that modified human MR1 tetramers loaded with the potent MAIT cell ligand, reduced 6-hydroxymethyl-8-d-ribityllumazine (rRL-6-CH2OH), specifically detect all human MAIT cells. Tetramer(+) MAIT subsets were predominantly CD8(+) or CD4(-)CD8(-), although a small subset of CD4(+) MAIT cells was also detected. Notably, most human CD8(+) MAIT cells were CD8α(+)CD8β(-/lo), implying predominant expression of CD8αα homodimers. Tetramer-sorted MAIT cells displayed a TH1 cytokine phenotype upon antigen-specific activation. Similarly, mouse MR1-rRL-6-CH2OH tetramers detected CD4(+), CD4(-)CD8(-) and CD8(+) MAIT cells in Vα19 transgenic mice. Both human and mouse MAIT cells expressed a broad TCR-β repertoire, and although the majority of human MAIT cells expressed TRAV1-2-TRAJ33, some expressed TRAJ12 or TRAJ20 genes in conjunction with TRAV1-2. Accordingly, MR1 tetramers allow precise phenotypic characterization of human and mouse MAIT cells and revealed unanticipated TCR heterogeneity in this population.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 10/2013; · 13.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The gastrointestinal tract presents the largest and most vulnerable surface to the outside world. Simultaneously, it must be accessible and permeable to nutrients and must defend against pathogens and potentially injurious chemicals. Integrated responses to these challenges require the gut to sense its environment, which it does through a range of detection systems for specific chemical entities, pathogenic organisms and their products (including toxins), as well as physicochemical properties of its contents. Sensory information is then communicated to four major effector systems: the enteroendocrine hormonal signalling system; the innervation of the gut, both intrinsic and extrinsic; the gut immune system; and the local tissue defence system. Extensive endocrine-neuro-immune-organ-defence interactions are demonstrable, but under-investigated. A major challenge is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the integrated responses of the gut to the sensory information it receives. A major therapeutic opportunity exists to develop agents that target the receptors facing the gut lumen.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell therapy has the potential to treat gastrointestinal motility disorders caused by diseases of the enteric nervous system. Many studies have demonstrated that various stem/progenitor cells can give rise to functional neurons in the embryonic gut; however, it is not yet known whether transplanted neural progenitor cells can migrate, proliferate, and generate functional neurons in the postnatal bowel in vivo. We transplanted neurospheres generated from fetal and postnatal intestinal neural crest-derived cells into the colon of postnatal mice. The neurosphere-derived cells migrated, proliferated, and generated neurons and glial cells that formed ganglion-like clusters within the recipient colon. Graft-derived neurons exhibited morphological, neurochemical, and electrophysiological characteristics similar to those of enteric neurons; they received synaptic inputs; and their neurites projected to muscle layers and the enteric ganglia of the recipient mice. These findings show that transplanted enteric neural progenitor cells can generate functional enteric neurons in the postnatal bowel and advances the notion that cell therapy is a promising strategy for enteric neuropathies.
The Journal of clinical investigation 03/2013; 123(3):1182-91. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Extracellular purines play important roles as neurotransmitters and paracrine mediators in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Inflammation of the GI tract causes marked changes in the release and extracellular catabolism of purines, and can modulate purinoceptor expression and/or signaling. The functional consequences of this include suppression of the purinergic component of inhibitory neuromuscular and neurovascular transmission, increased release of purines from immune and epithelial cells, loss of enteric neurons to damage through P2X(7) purinoceptors, and enhanced activation of pain fibres. The purinergic system represents an important target for drug therapies that may improve GI inflammation and its consequences.
Current Opinion in Pharmacology 10/2012; · 5.44 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Circulating ghrelin reduces blood pressure, but the mechanism for this action is unknown. This study investigated whether ghrelin has direct vasodilator effects mediated through the growth hormone secretagogue receptor 1a (GHSR1a) and whether ghrelin reduces sympathetic nerve activity. Mice expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein under control of the promoter for growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR) and RT-PCR were used to locate sites of receptor expression. Effects of ghrelin and the nonpeptide GHSR1a agonist capromorelin on rat arteries and on transmission in sympathetic ganglia were measured in vitro. In addition, rat blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity responses to ghrelin were determined in vivo. In reporter mice, expression of GHSR was revealed at sites where it has been previously demonstrated (hypothalamic neurons, renal tubules, sympathetic preganglionic neurons) but not in any artery studied, including mesenteric, cerebral, and coronary arteries. In rat, RT-PCR detected GHSR1a mRNA expression in spinal cord and kidney but not in the aorta or in mesenteric arteries. Moreover, the aorta and mesenteric arteries from rats were not dilated by ghrelin or capromorelin at concentrations >100 times their EC(50) determined in cells transfected with human or rat GHSR1a. These agonists did not affect transmission from preganglionic sympathetic neurons that express GHSR1a. Intravenous application of ghrelin lowered blood pressure and decreased splanchnic nerve activity. It is concluded that the blood pressure reduction to ghrelin occurs concomitantly with a decrease in sympathetic nerve activity and is not caused by direct actions on blood vessels or by inhibition of transmission in sympathetic ganglia.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent investigation of the intestine following ischemia and reperfusion (I/R) has revealed that nitric oxide synthase (NOS) neurons are more strongly affected than other neuron types. This implies that NO originating from NOS neurons contributes to neuronal damage. However, there is also evidence of the neuroprotective effects of NO. In this study, we compared the effects of I/R on the intestines of neuronal NOS knockout (nNOS(-/-)) mice and wild-type mice. I/R caused histological damage to the mucosa and muscle and infiltration of neutrophils into the external muscle layers. Damage to the mucosa and muscle was more severe and greater infiltration by neutrophils occurred in the first 24 h in nNOS(-/-) mice. Immunohistochemistry for the contractile protein, α-smooth muscle actin, was used to evaluate muscle damage. Smooth muscle actin occurred in the majority of smooth muscle cells in the external musculature of normal mice but was absent from most cells and was reduced in the cytoplasm of other cells following I/R. The loss was greater in nNOS(-/-) mice. Basal contractile activity of the longitudinal muscle and contractile responses to nerve stimulation or a muscarinic agonist were reduced in regions subjected to I/R and the effects were greater in nNOS(-/-) mice. Reductions in responsiveness also occurred in regions of operated mice not subjected to I/R. This is attributed to post-operative ileus that is not significantly affected by knockout of nNOS. The results indicate that deleterious effects are greater in regions subjected to I/R in mice lacking nNOS compared with normal mice, implying that NO produced by nNOS has protective effects that outweigh any damaging effect of this free radical produced by enteric neurons.
Cell and Tissue Research 06/2012; 349(2):565-76. · 3.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Functional studies have shown that subsets of autonomic preganglionic neurons respond to ghrelin and ghrelin mimetics and in situ hybridisation has revealed receptor gene expression in the cell bodies of some preganglionic neurons. Our present goal has been to determine which preganglionic neurons express ghrelin receptors by using mice expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the control of the promoter for the ghrelin receptor (also called growth hormone secretagogue receptor). The retrograde tracer Fast Blue was injected into target organs of reporter mice under anaesthesia to identify specific functional subsets of postganglionic sympathetic neurons. Cryo-sections were immunohistochemically stained by using anti-EGFP and antibodies to neuronal markers. EGFP was detected in nerve terminal varicosities in all sympathetic chain, prevertebral and pelvic ganglia and in the adrenal medulla. Non-varicose fibres associated with the ganglia were also immunoreactive. No postganglionic cell bodies contained EGFP. In sympathetic chain ganglia, most neurons were surrounded by EGFP-positive terminals. In the stellate ganglion, neurons with choline acetyltransferase immunoreactivity, some being sudomotor neurons, lacked surrounding ghrelin-receptor-expressing terminals, although these terminals were found around other neurons. In the superior cervical ganglion, the ghrelin receptor terminals innervated subgroups of neurons including neuropeptide Y (NPY)-immunoreactive neurons that projected to the anterior chamber of the eye. However, large NPY-negative neurons projecting to the acini of the submaxillary gland were not innervated by EGFP-positive varicosities. In the celiaco-superior mesenteric ganglion, almost all neurons were surrounded by positive terminals but the VIP-immunoreactive terminals of intestinofugal neurons were EGFP-negative. The pelvic ganglia contained groups of neurons without ghrelin receptor terminal innervation and other groups with positive terminals around them. Ghrelin receptors are therefore expressed by subgroups of preganglionic neurons, including those of vasoconstrictor pathways and of pathways controlling gut function, but are absent from some other neurons, including those innervating sweat glands and the secretomotor neurons that supply the submaxillary salivary glands.
Cell and Tissue Research 04/2012; 348(3):397-405. · 3.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurogastroenterology is defined as neurology of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, gallbladder and pancreas and encompasses control of digestion through the enteric nervous system (ENS), the central nervous system (CNS) and integrative centers in sympathetic ganglia. This Review provides a broad overview of the field of neurogastroenterology, with a focus on the roles of the ENS in the control of the musculature of the gastrointestinal tract and transmucosal fluid movement. Digestion is controlled through the integration of multiple signals from the ENS and CNS; neural signals also pass between distinct gut regions to coordinate digestive activity. Moreover, neural and endocrine control of digestion is closely coordinated. Interestingly, the extent to which the ENS or CNS controls digestion differs considerably along the digestive tract. The importance of the ENS is emphasized by the life-threatening effects of certain ENS neuropathies, including Hirschsprung disease and Chagas disease. Other ENS disorders, such as esophageal achalasia and gastroparesis, cause varying degrees of dysfunction. The neurons in enteric reflex pathways use a wide range of chemical messengers that signal through an even wider range of receptors. These receptors provide many actual and potential targets for modifying digestive function.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Organized motility patterns in the gut depend on circuitry within the enteric nervous system (ENS), but little is known about the development of electrophysiological properties and synapses within the ENS. We examined the electrophysiology and morphology of myenteric neurons in the mouse duodenum at three developmental stages: postnatal day (P)0, P10–11, and adult. Like adults, two main classes of neurons could be identified at P0 and P10–11 based on morphology: neurons with multiple long processes that projected circumferentially (Dogiel type II morphology) and neurons with a single long process. However, postnatal Dogiel type II neurons differed in several electrophysiological properties from adult Dogiel type II neurons. P0 and P10–11 Dogiel type II neurons exhibited very prominent Ca(2+)-mediated after depolarizing potentials (ADPs) following action potentials compared to adult neurons. Adult Dogiel type II neurons are characterized by the presence of a prolonged after hyperpolarizing potential (AHP), but AHPs were very rarely observed at P0. The projection lengths of the long processes of Dogiel type II neurons were mature by P10–11. Uniaxonal neurons in adults typically have fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs, ‘S-type' electrophysiology) mainly mediated by nicotinic receptors. Nicotinic-fEPSPs were also recorded from neurons with a single long process at P0 and P10–11. However, these neurons underwent major developmental changes in morphology, from predominantly filamentous neurites at birth to lamellar dendrites in mature mice. Unlike Dogiel type II neurons, the projection lengths of neurons with a single long process matured after P10–11. Slow EPSPs were rarely observed in P0/P10–11 neurons. This work shows that, although functional synapses are present and two classes of neurons can be distinguished electrophysiologically and morphologically at P0, major changes in electrophysiological properties and morphology occur during the postnatal development of the ENS.
The Journal of Physiology 02/2012; 590(Pt 10):2375-90. · 4.38 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Calcitonin receptor-immunoreactivity (CTR-ir) was found in enteric neurons of the mouse gastrointestinal tract from embryonic day 13.5 (E13.5) to post-natal day 28 (P28). CTR-ir occurred in cell bodies in ganglia of the myenteric plexus extending from the esophagus to the colon and in nerve cells of the submucosal ganglia of the small and large intestines. CTR-ir was also found in vagal nerve trunks and mesenteric nerves. Counts in the ileal myenteric plexus revealed CTR-ir in 80% of neurons. CTR-ir was clearly evident in the cell bodies of enteric neurons by E15.5. The immunoreactivity reached maximum intensity between P1.5 and P12 but was weaker at P18 and barely detectable at P28. The receptor was detected in nerve processes in the intestine for only a brief period around E17.5, when it was present in one to two axonal processes per villus in the small intestine. In late gestation and soon after birth, CTR-ir was also evident in the mucosal epithelium. The perinatal expression of CTR within the ENS suggests that the calcitonin/CTR system may have a role in the maturation of enteric neurons. Signals may reach enteric neurons in milk, which contains high levels of calcitonin.
Cell and Tissue Research 02/2012; 347(2):311-7. · 3.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In patients with spinal cord injury (SCI), somatosympathetic reflexes produce exaggerated decreases in skin blood flow below the lesion. This hypoperfusion appears to result from an increased responsiveness of cutaneous arterial vessels to neural activation. Here we investigated the mechanisms that underlie SCI-induced enhancement of neurovascular transmission in a cutaneous vessel, the rat tail artery. Isometric contractions of arterial segments from T11 spinal cord transected and sham-operated rats were compared 6 wk postoperatively. SCI more than doubled the amplitudes of contractions of arteries in response to moderate frequencies of nerve stimulation (0.1 to 1 Hz). In arteries from SCI rats, but not those from sham-operated rats, the L-type Ca(2+) channel blocker nifedipine (1 μM) reduced the amplitudes of nerve-evoked contractions. Furthermore, while the sensitivity to the agonists phenylephrine (α(1)-adrenoceptor selective) and clonidine (α(2)-adrenoceptor selective) did not differ significantly between arteries from SCI and sham-operated rats, nifedipine had a greater inhibitory effect on contractions to both agents in arteries from SCI rats. Although sensitivity to clonidine was unchanged, SCI selectively reduced the contribution of postjunctional α(2)-adenceptors to nerve-evoked contractions. In arteries from unoperated rats, the L-type channel agonist BAY K 8644 (0.1 μM) produced a similar enhancement of nerve-evoked contraction to that produced by SCI and also selectively reduced the contribution of α(2)-adrenceptors to these responses. Together the findings demonstrate that the SCI-induced enhancement of neurovascular transmission in the rat tail artery can largely be accounted for by an increased contribution of L-type Ca(2+) channels to activation of the vascular smooth muscle.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ghrelin, a peptide hormone from the stomach, has been recently discovered to reduce sodium excretion from the kidney. Although the effects on the kidney suggest actions in the distal nephron, the sites of expression of ghrelin receptors have not been localised. In the present work we have used a mouse that expresses green fluorescent protein under the control of the ghrelin receptor promoter to locate sites of receptor expression in the kidney. Receptor expression was confined to the straight parts of the distal tubules and the thin limbs of the loops of Henle. No expression was detected in other structures, including the glomeruli, proximal tubules and collecting ducts. Ghrelin receptors were not found in extra-renal or intra-renal arteries, despite observations that ghrelin is a vasodilator. The distribution revealed by in situ hybridisation histochemistry was the same as that revealed by the reporter. In conclusion, ghrelin receptors have a restricted distribution in the kidney. The location in the straight parts of the distal tubules accords with observations that ghrelin promotes sodium retention.
Cell and Tissue Research 09/2011; 346(1):135-9. · 3.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hyperpolarization-activated inward currents (I(h)) contribute to neuronal excitability in sensory neurons. Four subtypes of hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels generate I(h), with different activation kinetics and cAMP sensitivities. The aim of the present study was to examine the postnatal development of I(h) and HCN channel subunits in trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons. I(h) was investigated in acutely dissociated TG neurons from rats aged between postnatal day (P)1 and P35 with whole cell patch-clamp electrophysiology. In voltage-clamp studies, I(h) was activated by a series of hyperpolarizing voltage steps from -40 mV to -120 mV in -10-mV increments. Tail currents from a common voltage step (-100 mV) were used to determine I(h) voltage dependence. I(h) activation was faster in older rats and occurred at more depolarized potentials; the half-maximal activation voltage (V(1/2)) changed from -89.4 mV (P1) to -81.6 mV (P35). In current-clamp studies, blocking I(h) with ZD7288 caused membrane hyperpolarization and increases in action potential half-duration at all postnatal ages examined. ZD7288 also reduced the action potential firing frequency in multiple-firing neurons. Western blot analysis of the TG detected immunoreactive bands corresponding to all HCN subtypes. HCN1 and HCN2 band density increased with postnatal age, whereas the low-intensity HCN3 and moderate-intensity HCN4 bands were not changed. This study suggests that functional I(h) are activated in rat trigeminal sensory neurons from P1 during postnatal development, have an increasing role with age, and modify neuronal excitability.
Journal of Neurophysiology 07/2011; 106(4):2045-56. · 3.30 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transient receptor potential ankyrin (TRPA) 1, an excitatory ion channel expressed by sensory neurons, mediates somatic and visceral pain in response to direct activation or noxious mechanical stimulation. Although the intestine is routinely exposed to irritant alimentary compounds and inflammatory mediators that activate TRPA1, there is no direct evidence for functional TRPA1 receptors on enteric neurons, and the effects of TRPA1 activation on intestinal function have not been determined. We characterized expression of TRPA1 by enteric neurons and determined its involvement in the control of intestinal contractility and transit.
TRPA1 expression was characterized by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence analyses. TRPA1 function was examined by Ca(2+) imaging and by assays of contractile activity and transit.
We detected TRPA1 messenger RNA in the mouse intestine and TRPA1 immunoreactivity in enteric neurons. The cecum and colon had immunoreactivity for neuronal TRPA1, but the duodenum did not. TRPA1 immunoreactivity was also detected in inhibitory motoneurons and descending interneurons, cholinergic neurons, and intrinsic primary afferent neurons. TRPA1 activators, including cinnamaldehyde, allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), and 4-hydroxynonenal, increased [Ca(2+)](i) in myenteric neurons. These were reduced by a TRPA1 antagonist (HC-030031) or deletion of Trpa1. TRPA1 activation inhibited contractility of the segments of colon but not stomach or small intestine of Trpa1(+/+) but not Trpa1(-/-) mice; this effect was reduced by tetrodotoxin or N(G)-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester. Administration of AITC by gavage did not alter gastric emptying or small intestinal transit, but luminal AITC inhibited colonic transit via TRPA1.
Functional TRPA1 is expressed by enteric neurons, and activation of neuronal TRPA1 inhibits spontaneous neurogenic contractions and transit of the colon.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Changes in intestinal function, notably impaired transit, following ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury are likely to derive, at least in part, from damage to the enteric nervous system. Currently, there is a lack of quantitative data and methods on which to base quantitation of changes that occur in enteric neurons. In the present work, we have investigated quantifiable changes in response to ischemia of the mouse small intestine followed by reperfusion from 1 h to 7 days. I/R caused distortion of nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-containing neurons, the appearance of a TUNEL reaction in neurons, protein nitrosylation and translocation of Hu protein. Protein nitrosylation was detected after 1 h and was detectable in 10% of neurons by 6 h in the ischemic region, indicating that reactive peroxynitrites are rapidly produced and can interact with proteins soon after reperfusion. Apoptosis, revealed by TUNEL staining, was apparent at 6 h. The profile sizes of NOS neurons were increased by 60% at 2 days and neurons were still swollen at 7 days, both in the ischemic region and proximal to the ischemia. The distribution of the enteric neuron marker and oligonucleotide binding protein, Hu, was significantly changed in both regions. Hu protein translocation to the nucleus was apparent by 3 h and persisted for up to 7 days. Particulate Hu immunoreactivity was observed in the ganglia 3 h after I/R but was never observed in control. Our observations indicate that effects of I/R injury can be detected after 1 h and that neuronal changes persist to at least 7 days. Involvement of NO and reactive oxygen species in the changes is indicated by the accumulation of nitrosylated protein aggregates and the swelling and distortion of nitrergic neurons. It is concluded that damage to the enteric nervous system, which is likely to contribute to functional deficits following ischemia and re-oxygenation in the intestine, can be quantified by Hu protein translocation, protein nitrosylation, swelling of nitrergic neurons and apoptosis.
Cell and Tissue Research 02/2011; 344(1):111-23. · 3.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Periods of ischemia followed by restoration of blood flow cause ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. In the intestine, I/R damage to the mucosa and neurons is prominent. Functionally, abnormalities occur in motility, most conspicuously a slowing of transit, possibly as a consequence of damage to neurons and/or muscle. Here, we describe degenerative and regenerative changes that have not been previously reported in intestinal muscle. The mouse small intestine was made ischemic for 1 h, followed by re-perfusion for 1 h to 7 days. The tissues were examined histologically, after hematoxylin/eosin and Masson's trichrome staining, and by myeloperoxidase histochemistry to detect inflammatory reactions to I/R. Histological analysis revealed changes in the mucosa, muscle, and neurons. The mucosa was severely but transiently damaged. The mucosal surface was sloughed off at 1-3 h, but re-epithelialization occurred by 12 h, and the epithelium appeared healthy by 1-2 days. Longitudinal muscle degeneration was followed by regeneration, but little effect on the circular muscle was noted. The first signs of muscle change were apparent at 3-12 h, and by 1 and 2 days, extensive degeneration within the muscle was observed, which included clear cytoplasm, pyknotic nuclei, and apoptotic bodies. The muscle recovered quickly and appeared normal at 7 days. Histological evidence of neuronal damage was apparent at 1-7 days. Neutrophils were not present in the muscle layers and were infrequent in the mucosa. However, they were often seen in the longitudinal muscle at 1-3 days and were also present in the circular muscle. Neutrophil numbers increased in the mucosa in both I/R and sham-operated animals and remained elevated from 1 h to 7 days. We conclude that I/R causes severe longitudinal muscle damage, which might contribute to the long-term motility deficits observed after I/R injury to the intestine.
Cell and Tissue Research 02/2011; 343(2):411-9. · 3.68 Impact Factor