Psychosocial stress is a critical inducing factor of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), while autophagy is a novel central issue of IBD development. The present study investigated the potential role of autophagy in stress-related IBD in patients and animal model. The correlation between psychosocial stress and intestinal autophagy was determined in 23 patients with IBD. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), a well-established inducer of psychosocial stress, was administrated in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced IBD mice and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM). In IBD patients, the autophagy markers beclin-1, LC3-II/I ratio, Atg16L1, and Atg4B were significantly enhanced. The psychosocial stress score was positively associated with the levels of beclin-1 and the LC3II/I ratio in intestinal biopsy specimens. In IBD mouse model, CRH significantly aggravated intestinal inflammation, increased Paneth cell metaplasia, and enhanced intestinal autophagy (beclin-1, Atg16L1, PIK3R4, and Atg4B upregulation; GAA, CTSD, and PPKAA1 downregulation). Additionally, the CRH-induced gut microbial dysbiosis was evidenced by a marked increase in the number of detrimental bacteria. In LPS-stimulated BMDM, CRH substantially increased M1/M2 polarization and thus promoted inflammation. In both IBD mice and LPS-treated BMDM, blockade of autophagy by chloroquine abrogated the unbeneficial effects of CRH, whereas autophagy inducer rapamycin resulted in a pronounced protective effect against IBD lesion. Our data demonstrate that psychosocial stress may link the enhanced intestinal autophagy by modulating gut microbiota and inflammation to aggravate IBD. These data indicate autophagy as a promising therapeutic target for psychosocial stress-related IBD.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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