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SARS-COV-2 INDUCES EPITHYELIAL-NEURONAL CROSSTALK STIMULATING VASOACTIVE INTESTINAL PEPTIDE RELEASE AS A POTENTIAL MECHANISM OF COVID-19-ASSOCIATED DIARRHEA
Gastroenterology ; 160(6):S-233-S-234, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1594011
ABSTRACT

Background:

Up to 36.6% of COVID-19 patients have diarrheal symptoms and 48.1% test positive for SARS-CoV-2 via stool test. The mechanism of SARS-CoV-2-associated diarrhea remains poorly understood. We hypothesize that crosstalk between enterocytes and the enteric nervous system (ENS) plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of COVID-19-associated diarrhea. We studied the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on induction of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and release of Damage Associated Molecular Patterns (DAMPs), which act on enteric neurons and stimulate the production of neurotransmitters. The influence of ER stress and enteric neuron-derived vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) on the expression of electrolyte transporter Na+/H+ exchanger 3 (NHE3) was also examined.

Methods:

SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020) was propagated in Vero-E6 cells. Caco-2, a human colon epithelial cell line, expresses the essential SARS-CoV-2 entry receptor ACE2 and was thus used for infection (MOI, ~0.01). We used Western blotting to assess the expression of ER stress (phospho-PERK and Xbp1s) and DAMP (HMGB1) markers at 48 hours post-infection. Primary mouse enteric neurons were co-cultured with Caco-2 cells, pre-treated for 24 hours with 2 μM tunicamycin to induce ER stress. Supernatants from enteric neurons were used to assess the expression of VIP by ELISA. Primary enteric neurons were treated with HMGB1 or ATP (another form of DAMPs), and the expression of c-FOS, a marker of neuronal activity, was determined by Western blotting and immunofluorescence staining.

Results:

We found that SARS-CoV-2 infection of Caco-2 cells led to increased expression of phospho-PERK and Xbp1s. Compared to uninfected control, infected Caco-2 cells secreted HMGB1 into culture media, indicating epithelial production of DAMPs in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Tunicamycin was used to induce ER-stress and secretion of HMGB1 by Caco-2, mimicking SARS-CoV-2 infection. Importantly, enteric neurons co-cultured with tunicamycin-treated Caco-2 cells secreted significantly higher levels of VIP. Treating Caco-2 cells with tunicamycin or VIP on the basolateral side led to decreased surface NHE3 expression, suggesting a potential impairment of intestinal electrolyte/fluid absorption. More-over, HMGB1 and ATP both increased the expression of phospho-c-FOS in cultured enteric neurons, indicating DAMP-induced neuronal activation.

Conclusions:

Our findings demon-strate that enterocytes infected by SARS-CoV-2 release DAMPs with the capacity to induce VIP secretion by the enteric neurons, which in turn acts on enterocytes and inhibits apical localization of NHE3. These findings establish basic mechanisms relevant to diarrheal disease in COVID-19 patients and identify potential targets for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection of the gastrointestinal tract.
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Full text: Available Collection: Databases of international organizations Database: EMBASE Type of study: Prognostic study / Risk factors Language: English Journal: Gastroenterology Year: 2021 Document Type: Article

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Full text: Available Collection: Databases of international organizations Database: EMBASE Type of study: Prognostic study / Risk factors Language: English Journal: Gastroenterology Year: 2021 Document Type: Article