Background & aims: Adiponectin (APN) is an adipokine that regulates insulin sensitivity and is anti-inflammatory in atherosclerosis. The goal of this study was to investigate the role of APN in intestinal inflammation.
Methods: APN knockout (KO) mice and their wild-type (WT) littermates received dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) or trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) to induce intestinal inflammation. Clinical and histologic scores and proliferation of epithelial cells were assessed. Cytokines and APN levels were measured. Expression of APN and heparin binding epidermal growth factor (HB-EGF) was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Expression of APN and its receptors, HB-EGF, and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) messenger RNA was assessed by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Association of serum APN with HB-EGF and bFGF was studied by coimmunoprecipitation.
Results: APN KO mice are protected from chemically induced colitis; administration of APN restores inflammation. APN is expressed in the colon, luminal APN associates with colonic epithelial cells. In vitro, APN increases production of proinflammatory cytokines from colonic tissue. Expression of colonic APN overlaps with that of bFGF and HB-EGF, which play a protective role in colitis. Circulating APN binds to bFGF and HB-EGF, likely inhibiting their protective activity. Inhibition of EGF receptor signaling, which is required for biologic activity of HB-EGF, restores inflammation in APN KO mice.
Conclusions: APN deficiency is associated with protection from chemically induced colitis. APN exerts proinflammatory activities in the colon by inducing production of proinflammatory cytokines and inhibiting bioactivity of protective growth factors. Thus, in colitis, APN exerts an opposite role compared with atherosclerosis.