Author(s): Schreiber O, Petersson J, Waldn T, Ahl D, Sandler S,
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Abstract AIM: To investigate colonic mucus thickness in vivo in health and during experimental inflammatory bowel disease. METHODS: Colitis was induced with 5\% DSS in drinking water for 8 days prior to experiment, when the descending colonic mucosa of anesthetized rats was studied using intravital microscopy. Mucus thickness was measured with micropipettes attached to a micromanipulator. To assess the contributions of NOS and prostaglandins in the regulation of colonic mucus thickness, the non-selective NOS-inhibitor L-NNA (10 mg/kg bolus followed by 3 mg/kg/h), the selective iNOS-inhibitor L-NIL (10 mg/kg bolus followed by 3 mg/kg/h) and the non-selective COX-inhibitor diclofenac (5 mg/kg) were administered intravenously prior to experiment. To further investigate the role of iNOS in the regulation of colonic mucus thickness, iNOS -/- mice were used. RESULTS: Colitic rats had a thicker firmly adherent mucus layer following 8 days of DSS treatment than untreated rats (88±2 µm vs 76±1 µm). During induction of colitis, the thickness of the colonic mucus layer initially decreased but was from day 3 significantly thicker than in untreated rats. Diclofenac reduced the mucus thickness similarly in colitic and untreated rats (-16±5 µm vs -14±2 µm). While L-NNA had no effect on colonic mucus thickness in DSS or untreated controls (+3±2 µm vs +3±1 µm), L-NIL reduced the mucus thickness significantly more in colitic rats than in controls (-33±4 µm vs -10±3 µm). The importance of iNOS in regulating the colonic mucus thickness was confirmed in iNOS-/- mice, which had thinner colonic mucus than wild-type mice (35±3 µm vs 50±2 µm, respectively). Furthermore, immunohistochemistry revealed increased levels of iNOS in the colonic surface epithelium following DSS treatment. CONCLUSION: Both prostaglandins and nitric oxide regulate basal colonic mucus thickness. During onset of colitis, the thickness of the mucus layer is initially reduced followed by an iNOS mediated increase.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology