Background and purpose: Increasing evidence implicates metabotropic glutamate receptor mGlu 7 in the pathophysiology of stress-related disorders such as depression and anxiety. Mood disorders are frequently associated with gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction; however, the role of mGlu 7 receptors outside the CNS is unknown. This present study investigated the expression and possible functional role of mGlu 7 receptors in the mouse colon. Experimental approach: Expression of mGlu 7 receptor mRNA and protein was studied in mouse colon by in situ hybridization and Western blotting. Effects of the selective mGlu 7 receptor agonist AMN082 on defecation and faecal parameters were studied in an isolation-induced stress model. AMN082 effects on ion transport and neuronal intracellular signalling were examined via Ussing chambers and calcium imaging. Key results: mGlu 7 receptor mRNA and protein were highly expressed in colon mucosa. Stress-induced faecal output was unaffected by AMN082, although faecal water content was increased. In mucosa/submucosa preparations, 100 nM and 1M AMN082 increased bethanechol-induced changes in short-circuit current in the Ussing chamber. This was sensitive to tetrodotoxin. Also, 100 nM AMN082 significantly increased calcium signalling in a subset of submucosal neurons. Conclusions and implications: Activating mGlu 7 receptors increased colonic secretory function in vivo and ex vivo. In a group of submucosal neurons, AMN082 strongly induced calcium signalling and the presence of submucosal nerves was required for the AMN082-dependent increase in secretion. These data suggest that targeting mGlu 7 receptors may be useful in the treatment of central components of stress disorders and also stress-associated GI dysfunction such as diarrhoea or constipation.
- Irritable bowel syndrome