Experimental colitis in rats induces de novo synthesis of cytokines at distant intestinal sites: Role of capsaicin-sensitive primary afferent fibers

Fadi H. Mourad, Tamim Hamdi, Kassem A. Barada, Nayef E. Saadé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Increased levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines were observed in various segments of histologically-intact small intestine in animal models of acute and chronic colitis. Whether these cytokines are produced locally or spread from the inflamed colon is not known. In addition, the role of gut innervation in this upregulation is not fully understood. Aims: To examine whether cytokines are produced de novo in the small intestine in two rat models of colitis; and to investigate the role of capsaicin-sensitive primary afferents in the synthesis of these inflammatory cytokines. Methods: Colitis was induced by rectal instillation of iodoacetamide (IA) or trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid (TNBS) in adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Using reverse transcriptase (RT) and realtime PCR, TNF-α, and IL-10 mRNA expression was measured in mucosal scrapings of the duodenum, jejunum, ileum and colon at different time intervals after induction of colitis. Capsaicin-sensitive primary afferents (CSPA) were ablated using subcutaneous injections of capsaicin at time 0, 8 and 32 h, and the experiment was repeated at specific time intervals to detect any effect on cytokines expression. Results: TNF-α mRNA expression increased by 3-40 times in the different intestinal segments (p<0.05 to p<0.001), 48h after IA-induced colitis. CSPA ablation completely inhibited this upregulation in the small intestine, but not in the colon. Similar results were obtained in TNBS-induced colitis at 24 h. Intestinal IL-10 mRNA expression significantly decreased at 12 h and then increased by 6-43 times (p<0.05 to p<0.001) 48h after IA administration. This increase was abolished in rats subjected to CSPA ablation except in the colon, where IL-10 further increased by twice (p<0.05). In the TNBS group, there was 4-12- and 4-7-fold increases in small intestinal IL-10 mRNA expression at 1 and 21 days after colitis induction, respectively (both p<0.01). This increase was not observed in rats pretreated with capsaicin. Capsaicin-treated and untreated rats had comparable visual ulcer scores after colitis induction. Conclusion: Inflammatory cytokines are produced de novo in distant intestinal segments in colitis. CSPA fibers play a key role in the upregulation of this synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-53
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Cytokine Network
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • Colitis
  • Cytokines
  • IL-10
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • TNF-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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