Interplay between colonic inflammation and tachykininergic pathways in the onset of colonic dysmotility in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity

Luca Antonioli, Valentina Caputi, Matteo Fornai, Carolina Pellegrini, Daniela Gentile, Maria Cecilia Giron, Genny Orso, Nunzia Bernardini, Cristina Segnani, Chiara Ippolito, Balázs Csóka, György Haskó, Zoltán H. Németh, Carmelo Scarpignato, Corrado Blandizzi, Rocchina Colucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The murine model of high fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity is characterized by an increment of intestinal permeability, secondary to an impairment of mucosal epithelial barrier and enteric inflammation, followed by morphofunctional rearrangement of the enteric nervous system. The present study investigated the involvement of abdominal macrophages in the mechanisms underlying the development of enteric dysmotility associated with obesity. Methods: Wild type C57BL/6J mice were fed with HFD (60% kcal from fat) or normocaloric diet (NCD, 18% kcal from fat) for 8 weeks. Groups of mice fed with NCD or HFD were treated with clodronate encapsulated into liposomes to deplete abdominal macrophages. Tachykininergic contractions, elicited by electrical stimulation or exogenous substance P (SP), were recorded in vitro from longitudinal muscle colonic preparations. Substance P distribution was examined by confocal immunohistochemistry. The density of macrophages in the colonic wall was examined by immunohistochemical analysis. Malondialdehyde (MDA, colorimetric assay) and IL-1β (ELISA assay) levels were also evaluated. Results: MDA and IL-1β levels were increased in colonic tissues from HFD-treated animals. In colonic preparations, electrically evoked tachykininergic contractions were enhanced in HFD mice. Immunohistochemistry displayed an increase in substance P immunoreactivity in myenteric ganglia, as well as in the muscular layers of colonic cryosections from obese mice. Macrophage depletion in HFD mice was associated with a significant reduction of colonic inflammation. In addition, the decrease in macrophage density attenuated the morphofunctional alterations of tachykininergic pathways observed in obese mice. Conclusion: Obesity elicited by HFD determines a condition of colonic inflammation, followed by a marked rearrangement of motor excitatory tachykininergic enteric nerves. Macrophage depletion counteracted the morphofunctional changes of colonic neuromuscular compartment, suggesting a critical role for these immune cells in the onset of enteric dysmotility associated with obesity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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