Background Ulcerative colitis is an idiopathic inflammatory condition of the colon that may require surgical intervention including proctocolectomy and either ileal pouch-anal anastomosis or in the pediatric population, low ileorectal anastomosis (IRA). Often, subsequent physiologic alteration (or colonic metaplasia) occurs in the anastomosed small bowel that includes changes in mucin content, villous blunting, and increased expression of WNT5A, a marker of colonic crypt regeneration. We developed a rat low IRA model to assess and study the development of colonic metaplasia. Materials and methods We subjected male Sprague–Dawley rats (n = 17) to total colectomy and low IRA surgery and evaluated healing periodically by endoscopic evaluation. The ileum upstream of the anastomosis was assessed by hematoxylin and eosin staining, and the mucin content was measured by high iron diamine-Alcian blue staining. Wnt5a transcripts were quantified by reverse transcription and quantitative polymerase chain reaction at the 8-wk study end point. Results Although no gross endoscopic evidence of inflammation was seen throughout the course of the study, colonic metaplasia in the small bowel was detected in 7 out of 10 (70%) rats at the study end point. In rats with colonic metaplasia, enhanced expression of Wnt5a was evident at the study end point compared to levels in the terminal ileum at the time of surgery. Conclusions Within 4-8 wk, the majority of rats subjected to IRA developed colonic metaplasia defined by villous blunting, changes in mucin content, and increased expression of Wnt5a. This model provides a method to study small bowel colonic metaplasia.
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