Author(s): Morampudi V, Conlin VS, Dalwadi U, Wu X, Marshall KC,
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Abstract We previously showed that vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) protects against bacterial pathogen-induced epithelial barrier disruption and colitis, although the mechanisms remain poorly defined. The aim of the current study was to identify cellular pathways of VIP-mediated protection with use of pharmacological inhibitors during enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) infection of Caco-2 cell monolayers and during Citrobacter rodentium-induced colitis. EPEC-induced epithelial barrier disruption involved the PKC pathway but was independent of functional cAMP, Rho, and NF-κB pathways. VIP mediated its protective effects by inhibiting EPEC-induced PKC activity and increasing expression of the junctional protein claudin-4. Short-term treatment with TPA, which is known to activate PKC, was inhibited by VIP pretreatment, while PKC degradation via long-term treatment with TPA mimicked the protective actions of VIP. Immunostaining for specific PKC isotypes showed upregulated expression of PKCθ and PKCε during EPEC infection. Treatment with specific inhibitors revealed a critical role for PKCε in EPEC-induced barrier disruption. Furthermore, activation of PKCε and loss of barrier integrity correlated with claudin-4 degradation. In contrast, inhibition of PKCε by VIP pretreatment or the PKCε inhibitor maintained membrane-bound claudin-4 levels, along with barrier function. Finally, in vivo treatment with the PKCε inhibitor protected mice from C. rodentium-induced colitis. In conclusion, EPEC infection increases intracellular PKCε levels, leading to decreased claudin-4 levels and compromising epithelial barrier integrity. VIP inhibits PKCε activation, thereby attenuating EPEC-induced barrier disruption. Copyright © 2015 the American Physiological Society.
This article was published in Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Steroids & Hormonal Science