BACKGROUND & AIMS: Total parenteral nutrition (TPN), a crucial treatment for patients who cannot receive enteral nutrition, is associated with mucosal atrophy, barrier dysfunction, and infectious complications. Glucagon-like peptide-2 (GLP-2) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) improve intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) responses and attenuate mucosal atrophy in several TPN models. However, it remains unclear whether these 2 factors use distinct or overlapping signaling pathways to improve IEC responses. We investigated the interaction of GLP-2 and EGF signaling in a mouse TPN model and in patients deprived of enteral nutrition.

METHODS: Adult C57BL/6J, IEC-Egfrknock out (KO) and IEC-pik3r1KO mice receiving TPN or enteral nutrition were treated with EGF or GLP-2 alone or in combination with reciprocal receptor inhibitors, GLP-2(3-33) or gefitinib. Jejunum was collected and mucosal atrophy and IEC responses were assessed by histologic, gene, and protein expression analyses. In patients undergoing planned looped ileostomies, fed and unfed ileum was analyzed.

RESULTS: Enteral nutrient deprivation reduced endogenous EGF and GLP-2 signaling in mice and human beings. In the mouse TPN model, exogenous EGF or GLP-2 attenuated mucosal atrophy and restored IEC proliferation. The beneficial effects of EGF and GLP-2 were decreased upon Gefitinib treatment and in TPN-treated IEC-EgfrKO mice, showing epidermal growth factor–receptor dependency for these IEC responses. By contrast, in TPN-treated IEC-pi3kr1KO mice, the beneficial actions of EGF were lost, although GLP-2 still attenuated mucosal atrophy.

CONCLUSIONS: Upon enteral nutrient deprivation, exogenous GLP-2 and EGF show strong interdependency for improving IEC responses. Understanding the differential requirements for phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/phosphoAKT (Ser473) signaling may help improve future therapies to prevent mucosal atrophy.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, v. 3, no. 3, p. 447-468.

© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of the AGA Institute.

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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Funding Information

This study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants R01-DK093697 (P.J.D.), R01-AI044076 (D.H.T.), and 2RO1 DK095662 (T.A.B.).