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J Virol. 2014 Mar;88(6):3161-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02927-13. Epub 2013 Dec 26.

Rotavirus infection increases intestinal motility but not permeability at the onset of diarrhea.

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Grupo de Virologia, Unidade de Microbiologia Médica, Centro de Malária e outras Doenças Trópicais, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.


The disease mechanisms associated with onset and secondary effects of rotavirus (RV) diarrhea remain to be determined and may not be identical. In this study, we investigated whether onset of RV diarrhea is associated with increased intestinal permeability and/or motility. To study the transit time, fluorescent fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-dextran was given to RV-infected adult and infant mice. Intestinal motility was also studied with an opioid receptor agonist (loperamide) and a muscarinic receptor antagonist (atropine). To investigate whether RV increases permeability at the onset of diarrhea, fluorescent 4- and 10-kDa dextran doses were given to infected and noninfected mice, and fluorescence intensity was measured subsequently in serum. RV increased transit time in infant mice. Increased motility was detected at 24 h postinfection (h p.i.) and persisted up to 72 h p.i in pups. Both loperamide and atropine decreased intestinal motility and attenuated diarrhea. Analysis of passage of fluorescent dextran from the intestine into serum indicated unaffected intestinal permeability at the onset of diarrhea (24 to 48 h p.i.). We show that RV-induced diarrhea is associated with increased intestinal motility via an activation of the myenteric nerve plexus, which in turn stimulates muscarinic receptors on intestinal smooth muscles.


We show that RV-infected mice have increased intestinal motility at the onset of diarrhea, and that this is not associated with increased intestinal permeability. These new observations will contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in RV diarrhea.

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