Chromogranin A regulates gut permeability via the antagonistic actions of its proteolytic peptides

Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2021 Jun;232(2):e13655. doi: 10.1111/apha.13655. Epub 2021 May 6.


Aim: A "leaky" gut barrier has been implicated in the initiation and progression of a multitude of diseases, for example, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease. Here we show how pro-hormone Chromogranin A (CgA), produced by the enteroendocrine cells, and Catestatin (CST: hCgA352-372 ), the most abundant CgA-derived proteolytic peptide, affect the gut barrier.

Methods: Colon tissues from region-specific CST-knockout (CST-KO) mice, CgA-knockout (CgA-KO) and WT mice were analysed by immunohistochemistry, western blot, ultrastructural and flowcytometry studies. FITC-dextran assays were used to measure intestinal barrier function. Mice were supplemented with CST or CgA fragment pancreastatin (PST: CgA250-301 ). The microbial composition of cecum was determined. CgA and CST levels were measured in blood of IBD patients.

Results: Plasma levels of CST were elevated in IBD patients. CST-KO mice displayed (a) elongated tight, adherens junctions and desmosomes similar to IBD patients, (b) elevated expression of Claudin 2, and (c) gut inflammation. Plasma FITC-dextran measurements showed increased intestinal paracellular permeability in the CST-KO mice. This correlated with a higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes, a dysbiotic pattern commonly encountered in various diseases. Supplementation of CST-KO mice with recombinant CST restored paracellular permeability and reversed inflammation, whereas CgA-KO mice supplementation with CST and/or PST in CgA-KO mice showed that intestinal paracellular permeability is regulated by the antagonistic roles of these two peptides: CST reduces and PST increases permeability.

Conclusion: The pro-hormone CgA regulates the intestinal paracellular permeability. CST is both necessary and sufficient to reduce permeability and primarily acts by antagonizing PST.

Keywords: Catestatin; chromogranin A; enteroendocrine cells; epithelial tight junctions; gut barrier; inflammatory bowel disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromogranin A
  • Colitis* / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases*
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Mice
  • Permeability
  • Tight Junctions


  • Chromogranin A