Background & aims: Many consider cholera toxin (CT) and Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin (LT) to be functionally identical. Both increase intracellular adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate concentration; however, differences between the two and the severity of the diseases they cause have been reported. The secretagogue 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is implicated in CT-induced secretion, but its role in LT-induced secretion is unclear. We tested the hypothesis that LT fails to recruit 5-HT in its secretory processes.
Methods: In vivo small intestinal perfusions were undertaken in adult male Wistar rats after incubation with equipotent doses of CT or LT, or saline. Small intestinal 5-HT release and the effect on net small intestinal water and electrolyte transport of (1) pharmacological depletion of 5-HT; (2) blockade of 5-HT type 2, 3, and 4 receptors; and (3) pretreatment with lidocaine, hexamethonium, and atropine were determined.
Results: CT- but not LT-induced secretion was accompanied by 5-HT release, reduced by 5-HT depletion, and inhibited by each 5-HT antagonist. By contrast, lidocaine and hexamethonium inhibited secretion induced by both toxins.
Conclusions: LT induces secretion without recruiting a 5-HT-dependent cascade. This may account for differences in clinical severity of the diseases CT and LT cause and has implications for the development of antisecretory therapies.