Background: Lubiprostone has been used to treat constipation through its effects to stimulate Cl(-) secretion, resulting in water and electrolyte secretion.
Aim: Potential associated changes in intestinal mucus and the colonizing bacteria (microbiome) have not been studied. As mucus obstructions may play a role in cystic fibrosis, the hypothesis that lubiprostone alters intestinal mucus and the microbiome was investigated.
Methods: Ion transport studies were performed ex vivo. For mucus and microbiome studies, mice were gavaged daily with lubiprostone or vehicle. Mucin from intestinal sections was analyzed in Carnoy's fixed tissues stained with Alcian blue. Microbiome composition was analyzed by 16S rRNA gene-based sequencing.
Results: Lubiprostone stimulated short circuit current in all mouse intestinal segments after both serosal and mucosal additions, albeit at lower concentrations in the latter. Current was Cl-dependent and blocked by mucosal diphenylcarboxylic acid, serosal bumetanide, and serosal Ba(++). The CFTR inhibitor CFTRinh172 had a marginal effect. Mucus near epithelial cells (inner layer mucus) was not present in the small intestine of any mice. Proximal colon inner mucus layer was thicker in ∆F/∆F compared with +/∆F and +/+ mice. Lubiprostone decreased inner mucus layer thickness in both proximal and distal colon of all mice. Furthermore, lubiprostone altered the intestinal microbiome by increasing abundance of Lactobacillus and Alistipes.
Conclusions: Lubiprostone activates non-CFTR Cl(-) secretion and alters the colonic inner mucus layer, which is associated with changes in the composition of the enteric microbiome.