Purinergic contribution to small intestinal afferent hypersensitivity in a murine model of postinfectious bowel disease

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Abstract

Increased sensitivity of the afferent innervation of the gastrointestinal tract reportedly underlies symptoms of discomfort and pain in functional bowel disorders. The present investigation aimed to examine whether the purinergic P2X2 and P2X3 receptor subunits contribute to the mechanosensitivity of small intestinal afferents in normal mice and in a murine model of postinfectious gut dysfunction. Mesenteric afferent nerve activity was recorded in a mouse jejunum preparation maintained in vitro. As has been shown previously, ramp distension of the jejunal segment evoked biphasic afferent discharge, reflecting activation of low and high threshold fibres. The average pressure-afferent response curve in mice deficient in both P2X2 and P2X3 subunits (n = 14) was not significantly different from that of the wild-type control preparations (n = 13). Application of pyridoxal 5-phosphate 6-azophenyl-2, 4-disulphonic acid (PPADS) (30 μmol L−1), a P2X and P2Y antagonist, or 2,4,6-trinitrophenol-adenosine 5′-triphosphate (10 μmol L−1), an antagonist selective for homomeric P2X3 and heteromeric P2X2/3 receptors, had no effect on the averaged pressure-afferent response curve in wild-type animals. In Trichinella spiralis-infected mice, the magnitude of mesenteric afferent responses to jejunal distension was greater at day 21 and day 56 postinfection compared with the sham control preparations demonstrating the development of afferent hypersensitivity. PPADS had no significant effect upon mechanically evoked afferent discharge rates in sham treated preparations (n = 5), but significantly inhibited afferent sensitivity to jejunal distension in preparations from mice at day 21 (n = 6) and day 56 (n = 7) postinfection. These results suggest that purinergic mechanisms play no role in mechanosensory transduction in the normal small intestine but contribute significantly to postinfectious mechano-hypersensitivity.

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