Previous studies have shown that early life trauma induced by maternal separation or colonic irritation leads to hypersensitivity to colorectal distension in adulthood. We tested the hypothesis that repetitive colorectal distension in neonates leads to abnormalities in colonic permeability and smooth muscle function in the adult rat. In neonatal rats, repetitive colorectal distension was performed on days 8, 10, and 12. As adults, stool consistency was graded from 0 (formed stool) to 3 (liquid stool). Colonic tissue was isolated for histology and myeloperoxidase levels. The colonic mucosa was placed in modified Ussing chambers for measurements of permeability and short-circuit current responses to forskolin, electrical field stimulation, and carbachol. Segments of colonic musculature were placed in organ baths and contractile response to potassium chloride, electrical field stimulation, and carbachol were determined. In adult rats that experienced neonatal colonic irritation, no significant changes in colonic histology or myeloperoxidase activity were observed; however, stool consistency scores were increased. Mucosal permeability, measured as an increase in basal conductance, was significantly increased but no changes in short-circuit current responses were observed. In adulthood, rats that underwent colorectal distension as neonates exhibited an elevated smooth muscle contractile response to potassium chloride, but no changes in response to electrical field stimulation or carbachol. In summary, neonatal colonic irritation, shown previously to produce colonic hypersensitivity, leads to significant alterations in colonic mucosal and smooth muscle function characterized by loose stools, increased mucosal permeability, and increased smooth muscle contractility in the absence of colon inflammation in adulthood.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.