BACKGROUND: Stress induced increase in colonic paracellular permeability results from epithelial cell cytoskeleton contraction and is responsible for stress induced hypersensitivity to colorectal distension (CRD). The probiotic Lactobacillus farciminis releases spontaneously nitric oxide (NO) in the colonic lumen in vivo and exerts anti-inflammatory effects. This study aimed: (i) to evaluate the effects of L farciminis on stress induced hypersensitivity to CRD and increase in colonic paracellular permeability; and (ii) to ascertain whether these effects are NO mediated and related to changes in colonocyte myosin light chain phosphorylation (p-MLC). METHODS: Female Wistar rats received either 10(11) CFU/day of L farciminis or saline orally over 15 days before partial restraint stress (PRS) or sham-PRS application. Visceral sensitivity to CRD and colonic paracellular permeability was assessed after PRS or sham-PRS. Haemoglobin was used as an NO scavenger. Western blotting for MLC kinase, MLC, and p-MLC were performed in colonic mucosa from L farciminis treated and control rats after PRS or sham-PRS. RESULTS: PRS significantly increased the number of spike bursts for CRD pressures of 30-60 mm Hg as well as colonic paracellular permeability. L farciminis treatment prevented both effects, while haemoglobin reversed the protective effects of L farciminis. p-MLC expression increased significantly from 15 to 45 minutes after PRS, and L farciminis treatment prevented this increase. CONCLUSION: L farciminis treatment prevents stress induced hypersensitivity, increase in colonic paracellular permeability, and colonocyte MLC phosphorylation. This antinociceptive effect occurs via inhibition of contraction of colonic epithelial cell cytoskeleton and the subsequent tight junction opening, and may also involve direct or indirect effects of NO produced by this probiotic.
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