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Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2010 Jan;22(1):e34-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2009.01377.x. Epub 2009 Aug 13.

Mucosal mast cells mediate motor response induced by chronic oral exposure to ovalbumin in the rat gastrointestinal tract.

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Department of Cell Biology, Immunology and Physiology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.


We previously demonstrated that oral chronic exposure to ovalbumin (OVA) causes intestinal hypermotility in Sprague-Dawley rats. In this study, the objective was to determine the mechanism of action of OVA and the role of mucosal mast cells in the regulation of motor activity in this model. Rats were orally exposed to OVA during 6 weeks. Intestinal mucosal mast cells (IMMCs) were counted and rat mast cell protease II (RMCPII) measured in duodenum, jejunum, ileum and colon. Anti-OVA IgE, IgG, and IL-4 were measured in serum. Eosinophils and IgE(+) cells were counted in jejunum. In an additional study rats were treated with the mast cell stabilizer ketotifen and mast cell number, RMCPII concentration and motor activity in vitro were evaluated. OVA exposed rats showed an increase in mucosal mast cell number and in RMCPII content in small intestine and colon. However, variables of a Th(2) type response were not affected by exposure to OVA: (i) neither OVA specific IgE nor IgG were found; (ii) IL-4 did not increase and, (iii) the number of eosinophils and IgE(+) cells was identical in the exposed and unexposed groups. These results brought us to hypothesize a possible non-Ig-mediated action of OVA on mast cells. Ketotifen significantly diminished the response to OVA: Ketotifen reduced the number of mast cells and the RMCPII content and blocked increased intestinal contractility. In addition ketotifen modified motor response in both OVA exposed and unexposed animals giving evidence of the importance of mast cells in intestine motor activity driving.

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