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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Contrasting effects of linaclotide and lubiprostone on restitution of epithelial cell barrier properties and cellular homeostasis after exposure to cell stressors

John Cuppoletti1*, Anthony T Blikslager2, Jayati Chakrabarti1, Prashant K Nighot2 and Danuta H Malinowska1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular & Cellular Physiology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, OH, 45267-0576, USA

2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 4700 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC, 27606, USA

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BMC Pharmacology 2012, 12:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2210-12-3

Published: 3 May 2012



Linaclotide has been proposed as a treatment for the same gastrointestinal indications for which lubiprostone has been approved, chronic idiopathic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. Stressors damage the epithelial cell barrier and cellular homeostasis leading to loss of these functions. Effects of active linaclotide on repair of barrier and cell function in pig jejunum after ischemia and in T84 cells after treatment with proinflammatory cytokines, interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α were examined. Comparison with effects of lubiprostone, known to promote repair of barrier function was carried out.


In ischemia-damaged pig jejunum, using measurements of transepithelial resistance, 3H-mannitol fluxes, short-circuit current (Cl secretion) and occludin localization, active linaclotide failed to effectively promote repair of the epithelial barrier or recovery of short-circuit current, whereas lubiprostone promoted barrier repair and increased short-circuit current. In control pig jejunum, 1 μM linaclotide and 1 μM lubiprostone both caused similar increases in short-circuit current (Cl secretion). In T84 cells, using measurements of transepithelial resistance, fluxes of fluorescent macromolecules, occludin and mitochondrial membrane potential, active linaclotide was virtually ineffective against damage caused by interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α, while lubiprostone protected or promoted repair of epithelial barrier and cell function. Barrier protection/repair by lubiprostone was inhibited by methadone, a ClC-2 inhibitor. Linaclotide, but not lubiprostone increased [cGMP]i as expected and [Ca2+]i and linaclotide depolarized while lubiprostone hyperpolarized the T84 plasma membrane potential suggesting that lubiprostone may lead to greater cellular stability compared to linaclotide. In T84 cells, as found with linaclotide but not with lubiprostone, transepithelial resistance was slightly but significantly decreased by guanylin, STa and 8-bromo cGMP and fluorescent dextran fluxes were increased by guanylin. However the physiological implications of these small but statistically significant changes remain unclear.


Considering the physiological importance of epithelial barrier function and cell integrity and the known impact of stressors, the finding that lubiprostone, but not active linaclotide, exhibits the additional distinct property of effective protection or repair of the epithelial barrier and cell function after stress suggests potential clinical importance for patients with impaired or compromised barrier function such as might occur in IBS.

Linaclotide; Lubiprostone; ClC-2; Epithelia; Barrier function; Restitution; Constipation; CIC; IBS-C