Adrenocorticotrophic hormone modulates Escherichia coli O157:H7 adherence to porcine colonic mucosa

Kristin L. Schreiber, David R. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Exposure to stress is associated with susceptibility to disease and one stress mediator, norepinephrine, has been reported to enhance the adherence of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EHEC) to the colonic mucosa. We tested the hypothesis that adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and other stress-related hormones may act in a similar fashion. Explants of distal colonic mucosa from young pigs were mounted in Ussing chambers and their luminal aspect was exposed to EHEC strain 700728 for 30-90 min. When added to the contraluminal, but not luminal bathing medium, ACTH increased EHEC adherence within 90 min in a concentration-dependent manner (EC50 = 1.2 nM), but did not alter tissue electrical conductance. ACTH had no effect on the adherence of a pig-adapted non-O157 E. coli strain. The effect of 0.1 μM ACTH on luminal EHEC adherence was prevented in tissues pretreated contraluminally with the type 2 melanocortin receptor antagonist ACTH7-38, the neuronal conduction blocker saxitoxin, or the muscarinic cholinergic antagonist atropine. Moreover, ACTH7-38 decreased EHEC adherence in the absence of ACTH. These results suggest that ACTH acts via melanocortin receptors located on enteric nerves to enhance mucosal adherence of EHEC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-190
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by National Institutes of Health/ National Institute on Drug Abuse grant R01 DA-10200. The authors thank Dr Mark Lyte (Department of Biology, Minnesota State University at Mankato, Mankato, MN) for invaluable assistance and technical advice and Eric Stewart and Melissa Casey for excellent technical assistance.


  • ACTH
  • Enteric nervous system
  • Melanocortin receptor
  • Stress-related intestinal infection
  • Swine


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