The effect of acute hypoxia on short-circuit current and epithelial resistivity in biopsies from human colon

Dig Dis Sci. 2013 Sep;58(9):2499-506. doi: 10.1007/s10620-013-2711-0. Epub 2013 May 22.


Background and aims: In isolated colonic mucosa, decreases in short-circuit current (ISC) and transepithelial resistivity (RTE) occur when hypoxia is either induced at both sides or only at the serosal side of the epithelium. We assessed in human colon biopsies the sensitivity to serosal-only hypoxia and mucosal-only hypoxia and whether Na, K-ATPase blockade with ouabain interacts with hypoxia.

Materials and methods: Biopsy material from patients undergoing colonoscopy was mounted in an Ussing chamber for small samples (1-mm2 window). In a series of experiments we assessed viability and the electrical response to the mucolytic, dithiothreitol (1 mmol/l). In a second series, we explored the effect of hypoxia without and with ouabain. In a third series, we evaluated the response to a cycle of hypoxia and reoxygenation induced at the serosal or mucosal side while keeping the oxygenation of the opposite side.

Results: 1st series: Dithiothreitol significantly decreased the unstirred layer and ISC but increased RTE. 2nd series: Both hypoxia and ouabain decreased ISC, but ouabain increased RTE and this effect on RTE prevailed even during hypoxia. 3rd series: Mucosal hypoxia caused lesser decreases of ISC and RTE than serosal hypoxia; in the former, but not in the latter, recovery was complete upon reoxygenation.

Conclusions: In mucolytic concentration, dithiothreitol modifies ISC and RTE. Oxygen supply from the serosal side is more important to sustain ISC and RTE in biopsy samples. The different effect of hypoxia and Na, K-ATPase blockade on RTE suggests that their depressing effect on ISC involves different mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colon / physiology*
  • Dithiothreitol
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / pathology
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology*
  • Male
  • Oxygen / physiology*
  • Serous Membrane / pathology*
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase
  • Oxygen
  • Dithiothreitol