Cystic fibrosis growth retardation is not correlated with loss of Cftr in the intestinal epithelium

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2011 Sep;301(3):G528-36. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00052.2011. Epub 2011 Jun 9.


Maldigestion due to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency leads to intestinal malabsorption and consequent malnutrition, a mechanism proposed to cause growth retardation associated with cystic fibrosis (CF). However, although enzyme replacement therapy combined with increased caloric intake improves weight gain, the effect on stature is not significant, suggesting that growth retardation has a more complex etiology. Mouse models of CF support this, since these animals do not experience exocrine pancreatic insufficiency yet are growth impaired. Cftr absence from the intestinal epithelium has been suggested as a primary source of growth retardation in CF mice, a concept we directly tested by generating mouse models with Cftr selectively inactivated or restored in intestinal epithelium. The relationship between growth and functional characteristics of the intestines, including transepithelial electrophysiology, incidence of intestinal obstruction, and histopathology, were assessed. Absence of Cftr exclusively from intestinal epithelium resulted in loss of cAMP-stimulated short-circuit current, goblet cell hyperplasia, and occurrence of intestinal obstructions but only slight and transient impaired growth. In contrast, specifically restoring Cftr to the intestinal epithelium resulted in restoration of ion transport and completely protected against obstruction and histopathological anomalies, but growth was indistinguishable from CF mice. These results indicate that absence of Cftr in the intestinal epithelium is an important contributor to the intestinal obstruction phenotype in CF but does not correlate with the observed growth reduction in CF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis / pathology
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / genetics*
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Goblet Cells / pathology
  • Growth Disorders / etiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiopathology*
  • Intestinal Obstruction / complications
  • Intestinal Obstruction / pathology
  • Mice
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator