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Endogenous CRF in rat large intestine mediates motor and secretory responses to stress

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Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) mediates our body's overall responses to stress. The role of central CRF in stress-stimulated colonic motility is well characterized. We hypothesized that transient perturbation in expression of enteric CRF is sufficient to change stress-induced colonic motor and secretory responses.


Sprague-Dawley rats (adult, male) were subjected to 1-h partial restraint stress (PRS) and euthanized at 0, 4, 8, and 24 h. CRF mRNA and peptide levels in the colon were quantified by real-time RT-PCR, enzyme immuno-assay and immunohistochemistry. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) designed to target CRF (dsCRF) was injected into the colonic wall to attain RNA interference-mediated inhibition of CRF mRNA expression. DsRNA for β-globin was used as a control (dsControl). Four days after dsRNA injection, rats were subjected to 1-h PRS. Fecal output was measured. Ussing chamber techniques were used to assess colonic mucosal ion secretion and transepithelial tissue conductance.

Key results

Exposure to PRS elevated CRF expression and increased CRF release in the rat colon. Injection of dsCRF inhibited basal CRF expression and prevented the PRS-induced increase in CRF expression, whereas CRF expression in dsControl-injected colons remained high after PRS. In rats treated with dsControl, PRS caused a significant increase in fecal pellet output, colonic baseline ion secretion, and transepithelial tissue conductance. Inhibition of CRF expression in the colon prevented PRS-induced increase in fecal output, baseline ion secretion, and transepithelial tissue conductance.

Conclusions & inferences

These results provide direct evidence that transient perturbation in peripherally expressed CRF prevents colonic responses to stress.

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