Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized by altered bowel habits, persistent pain and discomfort, and typically colorectal hypersensitivity. Linaclotide, a peripherally restricted 14 aa peptide approved for the treatment of IBS with constipation, relieves constipation and reduces IBS-associated pain in these patients presumably by activation of guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C), which stimulates production and release of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) from intestinal epithelial cells.Weinvestigated whether activation of GC-C by the endogenous agonist uroguanylin or the primary downstream effector of that activation, cGMP, directly modulates responses and sensitization of mechanosensitive colorectal primary afferents. The distal 2 cmof mouse colorectum with attached pelvic nerve was harvested and pinned flat mucosal side up for in vitro single-fiber recordings, and the encoding properties of mechanosensitive afferents (serosal, mucosal, muscular, and muscular-mucosal; M/M) to probing and circumferential stretch studied. Both cGMP (10 -300μM) and uroguanylin (1-1000 nM) applied directly to colorectal receptive endings significantly reduced responses of muscular and M/M afferents to stretch; serosal and mucosal afferents were not affected. Sensitized responses (i.e., increased responses to stretch) of muscular and M/M afferents were reversed by cGMP, returning responses to stretch to control. Blocking the transport of cGMP from colorectal epithelia by probenecid, a mechanism validated by studies in cultured intestinal T84 cells, abolished the inhibitory effect of uroguanylin on M/M afferents. These results suggest that GC-C agonists like linaclotide alleviate colorectal pain and hypersensitivity by dampening stretchsensitive afferent mechanosensitivity and normalizing afferent sensitization.
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