It is well recognized that ileostomy patients suffer from chronic depletion of Na + through the stoma effluent. In this study we evaluated the effects of ileostomy on messenger RNA levels that encode different Na +/H + exchanger isoforms (NHE-2 and NHE-3). Loop ileostomies were created in Sprague-Dawley rats. Segments of diverted ileum were harvested for quantitation of mRNA levels encoding these isoforms and the Na +/K + ATPase in mucosal scrapings and for immunofluorescence microscopy, specifically of the NHE-3 protein. Our studies indicate that as early as 8 days after diversion, NHE-3 gene expression is selectively attenuated in poststomal ileal mucosa. Mucosal morphology remains undisturbed, and the distribution of protein expression along the crypt/villus axis is not altered. Infusion of Na + or the enterocyte nutrient, glutamine, into the lumen of the diverted segment restores or even augments mRNA levels for NHE-3, again without altering the histologic appearance or distribution of the protein along the crypt/villus axis. These effects are specific because nonpolar osmolytes (mannitol) and related organic nutrients not specific for the enterocyte (i.e., butyrate) have no effect on mRNA levels of NHE-3. Further work is required to understand how the early changes in mRNA contribute to mucosal function and response to luminal diversion.
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