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Cytokine. 2016 Jul;83:231-238. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2016.04.017. Epub 2016 May 10.

Effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines, lipopolysaccharide and COX-2 mediators on human colonic neuromuscular function and epithelial permeability.

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Discipline of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
Department of Surgery, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia.
Discipline of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Electronic address:


Chronic colitis is associated with decreased colonic muscle contraction and loss of mucosal barrier function. Pro-inflammatory cytokines and bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) are important in the generation and maintenance of inflammation. While colitis is associated with upregulated COX-2 -derived prostanoids and nitric oxide (NO), the direct activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines on human colonic neuromuscular function is less clear. This study investigated the effects of IBD-associated pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-17, TNF-α, IL-1β and LPS on human colonic muscle strip contractility, alone and following inhibition of COX-2 or nitric oxide production. In addition, human colonic epithelial Caco-2 cell monolayers were treated with LPS or COX-2 mediators including prostaglandins (PGE2, PGF2α) or their corresponding ethanolamides (PGE2-EA or PGF2α-EA) over 48h and trans-epithelial electrical resistance used to record permeability changes. Longitudinal muscle strips were obtained from healthy colonic resection margins and mounted in organ baths following IL-17, TNF-α, IL-1β and bacterial LPS incubations in an explant setting over 20h. Contraction in response to acetylcholine (ACh) was then measured, before and after either COX-2 inhibition (nimesulide; 10(-5)M) or nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibition (l-NNA; 10(-4)M). None of the cytokine or LPS explant incubations affected the potency or maximum cholinergic contraction in vitro, and subsequent COX-2 blockade with nimesulide revealed a significant but similar decrease in potency of ACh-evoked contraction in control, LPS and cytokine-incubated muscle strips. Pre-treatment with l-NNA provided no functional differences in the potency or maximum contractile responses to ACh in cytokine or LPS-incubated colonic longitudinal smooth muscle. Only PGE2 transiently increased Caco-2 monolayer permeability at 24h, while LPS (10μg/ml) increased permeability over 24-48h. These findings indicate that cholinergic contractility in the human colon can be decreased by the blockade of COX-2 generated excitatory prostanoids, but major pro-inflammatory cytokines or LPS do not alter the sensitivity or amplitude of this contraction ex vivo. While PGE2 transiently increase epithelial permeability, LPS generates a significant and sustained increase in permeability indicative of an important role on barrier function at the mucosal interface.


COX-2; Colitis; Epithelial permeability; Interleukin 17; Prostaglandin ethanolamides; Prostaglandins

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