Colonic gene expression profile in NHE3-deficient mice: Evidence for spontaneous distal colitis

Daniel Laubitz, Claire B. Larmonier, Aiping Bai, Monica T. Midura-Kiela, Maciej A. Lipko, Robert D. Thurston, Pawel R. Kiela, Fayez K. Ghishan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Na+/H+ exchanger 3 (NHE3) provides a major route for intestinal Na+ absorption. NHE3 has been considered a target of proinflammatory cytokines and enteropathogenic bacteria, and impaired NHE3 expression and/or activity may be responsible for inflammation-associated diarrhea. However, the possibility of loss of NHE3 function reciprocally affecting gut immune homeostasis has not been investigated. In this report, we describe that NHE3-deficient mice spontaneously develop colitis restricted to distal colonic mucosa. NHE3-/- mice housed in a conventional facility exhibited phenotypic features such as mild diarrhea, occasional rectal prolapse, and reduced body weight. Genomewide microarray analysis identified not only a large group of transport genes that potentially represent an adaptive response, but also a considerable number of genes consistent with an inflammatory response. Histological examination demonstrated changes in the distal colon consistent with active inflammation, including crypt hyperplasia with an increased number of 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine-positive cells, diffuse neutrophilic infiltrate with concomitant 15-fold increase in matrix metalloproteinase 8 expression, an increased number of pSer276-RelA- positive cells, and a significant decrease in periodic acid-Schiff-positive goblet cells. Real-time PCR demonstrated elevated expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (38-fold), TNF-α (6-fold), macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (48-fold), and IL-18 (3-fold) in the distal colon of NHE3 -/- mice. NHE3-/- mice showed enhanced bacterial adhesion and translocation in the distal colon. Colitis was ameliorated by oral administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics. In conclusion, NHE3 deficiency leads to an exacerbated innate immune response, an observation suggesting a potentially novel role of NHE3 as a modifier gene, which when downregulated during infectious or chronic colitis may modulate the extent and severity of colonic inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G63-G77
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Colon
  • Knockout
  • Microarray
  • Slc9a3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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