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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2015 May 1;308(9):G767-78. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00313.2014. Epub 2015 Mar 19.

Role of the potassium chloride cotransporter isoform 2-mediated spinal chloride homeostasis in a rat model of visceral hypersensitivity.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai, China; and.
Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.
Department of Gastroenterology, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai, China; and


Visceral hypersensitivity represents an important hallmark in the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), of which the mechanisms remain elusive. The present study was designed to examine whether cation-chloride cotransporter (CCC)-mediated chloride (Cl(-)) homeostasis of the spinal cord is involved in chronic stress-induced visceral hypersensitivity. Chronic visceral hypersensitivity was induced by exposing male Wistar rats to water avoidance stress (WAS). RT-PCR, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry were used to assess the expression of CCCs in the spinal cord. Patch-clamp recordings were performed on adult spinal cord slices to evaluate Cl(-) homeostasis and Cl(-) extrusion capacity of lamina I neurons. Visceral sensitivity was estimated by measuring the abdominal withdrawal reflex in response to colorectal distension (CRD). After 10 days of WAS exposure, levels of both total protein and the oligomeric form of the K(+)-Cl(-) cotransporter isoform 2 (KCC2), but not Na(+)-K(+)-2Cl(-) transporter isoform 1 (NKCC1), were significantly decreased in the dorsal horn of the lumbosacral spinal cord. The downregulation of KCC2 resulted in a depolarizing shifted equilibrium potential of GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic current and impaired Cl(-) extrusion capacity in lamina I neurons of the lumbosacral spinal cord from WAS rats. Acute noxious CRD disrupted spinal KCC2 expression and function 2 h after the final distention in sham rats, but not in WAS rats. Pharmacological blockade of KCC2 activity by intrathecal injection of a KCC2 inhibitor [(dihydroindenyl)oxy] alkanoic acid enhanced visceral nociceptive sensitivity in sham rats, but not in WAS rats. These results suggest that KCC2 downregulation-mediated impairment of spinal cord Cl(-) homeostasis may play an important role in chronic stress-induced visceral hypersensitivity.


KCC2; irritable bowel syndrome; stress; visceral hypersensitivity

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