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J Immunol. 2006 Sep 1;177(5):3355-61.

Corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 2-deficient mice have reduced intestinal inflammatory responses.

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Gastrointestinal Neuropeptide Center, Gastroenterology Division, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and urocortins (Ucn) bind with various affinities to two G-protein-coupled receptors, CRHR1 and CRHR2, which are expressed in brain and in peripheral tissues, including immune cells. CRHR2-deficient mice display anxiety-like behavior, hypersensitivity to stress, altered feeding behavior and metabolism, and cardiovascular abnormalities. However, the phenotype of these mice in inflammatory responses has not been determined. In the present study we found that compared with wild-type CRHR2-null mice developed substantially reduced intestinal inflammation and had lower intestinal mRNA expression of the potent chemoattractants keratinocyte chemokine and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 following intraluminal exposure to Clostridium difficile toxin A, a potent enterotoxin that mediates antibiotic-associated diarrhea and colitis in humans. This effect was recapitulated by administration of astressin 2B, a selective CRHR2 antagonist, before toxin A exposure. Moreover, Ab array analysis revealed reduced expression of several inflammatory chemokines, including keratinocyte chemokine and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 in toxin A-exposed mice pretreated with astressin 2B. Real-time RT-PCR of wild-type mouse intestine showed that only UcnII, but not other Ucn, was significantly up-regulated by ileal administration of toxin A at 4 h compared with buffer exposure. We also found that human colonic epithelial HT-29 cells express CRHR2alpha mRNA, whereas expression of beta and gamma spliced variants was minimal. Moreover, treatment of HT-29 cells with UcnII, which binds exclusively to CRHR2, stimulated expression of IL-8 and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1. Taken together, these results provide direct evidence that CRHR2 mediates intestinal inflammatory responses via release of proinflammatory mediators at the colonocyte level.

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