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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2005 Jul;314(1):214-20. Epub 2005 Mar 29.

Stress impairs murine intestinal barrier function: improvement by glucagon-like peptide-2.

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Intestinal Disease Research Programme, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8N 3Z5.


Stress-induced intestinal barrier dysfunction may be involved in chronic intestinal disorders. Glucagon-like peptide-2 (GLP-2) is an intestinotrophic growth hormone that can rapidly improve intestinal epithelial barrier function. Here, we investigated whether mouse intestine is responsive to chronic psychological stress and whether pretreatment with GLP-2 can ameliorate stress-induced changes. Mice were subjected to water avoidance stress (WAS; 1 h/day for 10 days) with GLP-2 or saline administered 4 h before each WAS session. After the final stress period, the intestine was removed for assessment of physiological/morphological changes. Compared with controls (sham-stressed mice), stressed mice demonstrated enhanced ion secretion and permeability in the jejunum, ileum, and colon. In addition, increased numbers of bacteria were observed adhering to and/or penetrating the epithelium, associated with infiltration of mononuclear cells into the mucosa. GLP-2 treatment improved intestinal barrier function in stressed mice and ameliorated other aspects of impaired host defense. Our study extends previous findings in rats of stress-induced intestinal dysfunction and provides insights into potential novel therapeutics.

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