Interleukin-6, desmosome and tight junction protein expression levels in reflux esophagitis-affected mucosa

World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Aug 7;15(29):3621-30. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.3621.


Aim: To investigate the correlation between the expression levels of interleukin (IL)-6 and proteins in tight junctions (TJs) in the esophageal mucosa of rats modeling different types of reflux esophagitis (RE), and the ability of aluminum phosphate to protect against RE-induced mucosal damage via these proteins.

Methods: Male SPF Wistar rats aged 56 d were divided randomly into acid RE, alkaline RE, mixed RE, and control groups. Various surgical procedures were performed to establish rat models of acid RE. At 14 d after the procedure, some of the rats started aluminum phosphate treatment. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to observe the morphological features of TJs and desmosomes in the esophageal epithelium. Immunohistochemical methods and Western blotting were used to measure expression of claudin 1, occludin, ZO-1, JAM-1, DSG-1 and IL-6; reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to measure expression of mRNA of claudin 1, occludin, ZO-1, JAM-1, DSG-1 and IL-6.

Results: At day 14 after the procedures, an RE model was established in all subsequently sacrificed rats of groups A, B and C. By both gross and microscopic observation, the mucosa was damaged and thickened as the disease progressed. With TEM observation, a widened intercellular space was noticed, with significantly fewer desmosomes. Immunohistochemistry showed significantly higher levels of all proteins in all RE models compared to control rats at 3 d after operation (65.5% +/- 25.6% vs 20.5% +/- 2.1%, P < 0.05, respectively). At 14 d after operation, along with continuing hyperplasia in the basal layer, the expression of TJ proteins in individual cells gradually decreased (12.4% +/- 2.1% vs 20.5% +/- 2.1%, P < 0.05, respectively). Western blottings and RT-PCR showed a directly proportional increase in IL-6 levels in relation to TJ proteins, as compared to controls (0.878 +/- 0.024 vs 0.205 +/- 0.021 and 0.898 +/- 0.022 vs 0.205 +/- 0.021, P < 0.05, respectively). Upon treatment with aluminum phosphate, however, these protein levels were restored to normal gradually over 30-60 d in rats with acid RE (30.4% +/- 2.1% vs 20.5% +/- 2.1%, P > 0.05, treated vs untreated, respectively). These levels increased in the rat with alkaline RE, and this increase was accompanied by continued hyperplasia in comparison with controls (85.5% +/- 25.6% vs 20.5% +/- 2.1%, P < 0.05, respectively). Furthermore, the expression of TJ proteins was not correlated significantly with that of IL-6 in this group.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that TJ proteins are highly expressed as an early molecular event involved in RE development, and that IL-6 is an inflammatory factor in this process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antacids / therapeutic use
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Claudin-1
  • Desmoglein 1 / metabolism
  • Desmosomes / metabolism*
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / drug therapy
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / metabolism*
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / pathology
  • Esophagus / metabolism*
  • Esophagus / ultrastructure
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Mucous Membrane / metabolism
  • Occludin
  • Phosphates / therapeutic use
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism*
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein


  • Aluminum Compounds
  • Antacids
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Claudin-1
  • Cldn1 protein, rat
  • Desmoglein 1
  • F11r protein, rat
  • Interleukin-6
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Occludin
  • Ocln protein, rat
  • Phosphates
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Tjp1 protein, rat
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein
  • aluminum phosphate