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J Endocrinol. 2018 Nov 1;239(2):241-252. doi: 10.1530/JOE-18-0441.

Altered colonic sensory and barrier functions by CRF: roles of TLR4 and IL-1.

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Department of Regional Medicine and Education, Asahikawa Medical University, Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Asahikawa Medical University, Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan.
Research Center for Brain Function and Medical Engineering, Asahikawa Medical University, Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan.
Department of General Medicine, Asahikawa Medical University, Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan.


Visceral allodynia and increased colonic permeability are considered to be crucial pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and immune-mediated mechanisms have been proposed to contribute to these changes in IBS, but the precise roles have not been determined. We explored these issues in rats in vivo. The threshold of visceromotor response, i.e., abdominal muscle contractions induced by colonic balloon distention was electrophysiologically measured. Colonic permeability was estimated by quantifying the absorbed Evans blue in colonic tissue. Intraperitoneal injection of CRF increased the permeability, which was blocked by astressin, a non-selective CRF receptor antagonist, but astressin2-B, a selective CRF receptor subtype 2 (CRF2) antagonist did not modify it. Urocortin 2, a selective CRF2 agonist inhibited the increased permeability by CRF. Eritoran, a toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) antagonist or anakinra, an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist blocked the visceral allodynia and the increased gut permeability induced by CRF. Subcutaneous injection of lipopolysaccharide (immune stress) or repeated water avoidance stress (WAS, psychological stress), 1 h daily for 3 days induced visceral allodynia and increased gut permeability (animal IBS models), which were also blocked by astressin, eritoran or anakinra. In conclusion, stress-induced visceral allodynia and increased colonic permeability were mediated via peripheral CRF receptors. CRF induced these visceral changes via TLR4 and cytokine system, which were CRF1 dependent, and activation of CRF2 inhibited these CRF1-triggered responses. CRF may modulate immune system to alter visceral changes, which are considered to be pivotal pathophysiology of IBS.


corticotropin-releasing factor; cytokine; gut permeability; toll-like receptor 4; visceral pain

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