AIM: A 'leaky' gut barrier has been implicated in the initiation and progression of a multitude of diseases, e.g., inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac disease. Here we show how pro-hormone Chromogranin A (CgA), produced by the enteroendocrine cells, and Catestatin (CST: hCgA352-372 ), the most abundant CgA-derived proteolytic peptide, affect the gut barrier.
METHODS: Colon tissues from region-specific CST-knockout (CST-KO) mice, CgA-knockout (CgA-KO) and WT mice were analyzed by immunohistochemistry, Western blot, ultrastructural and flowcytometry studies. FITC-dextran assays were used to measure intestinal barrier function. Mice were supplemented with CST or CgA fragment pancreastatin (PST: CgA250-301 ). The microbial composition of cecum was determined. CgA and CST levels were measured in blood of IBD patients.
RESULTS: Plasma levels of CST were elevated in IBD patients. CST-KO mice displayed (i) elongated tight, adherens junctions and desmosomes similar to IBD patients, (ii) elevated expression of Claudin 2, and (iii) gut inflammation. Plasma FITC-dextran measurements showed increased intestinal paracellular permeability in the CST-knockout mice. This correlated with a higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes, a dysbiotic pattern commonly encountered in various diseases. Supplementation of CST-knockout mice with recombinant CST restored paracellular permeability and reversed inflammation, whereas CgA-knockout mice supplementation with CST and/or PST in CgA-KO mice showed that intestinal paracellular permeability is regulated by the antagonistic roles of these two peptides: CST reduces and PST increases permeability.
CONCLUSION: The pro-hormone CgA regulates the intestinal paracellular permeability. CST is both necessary and sufficient to reduce permeability and primarily acts by antagonizing PST.