Sympathetic activity regulates epithelial proliferation and wound healing via adrenergic receptor α2A

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Innervation of the intestinal mucosa by the sympathetic nervous system is well described but the effects of adrenergic receptor stimulation on the intestinal epithelium remain equivocal. We therefore investigated the effect of sympathetic neuronal activation on intestinal cells in mouse models and organoid cultures, to identify the molecular routes involved. Using publicly available single-cell RNA sequencing datasets we show that the α2A isoform is the most abundant adrenergic receptor in small intestinal epithelial cells. Stimulation of this receptor with norepinephrine or a synthetic specific α2A receptor agonist promotes epithelial proliferation and stem cell function, while reducing differentiation in vivo and in intestinal organoids. In an anastomotic healing mouse model, adrenergic receptor α2A stimulation resulted in improved anastomotic healing, while surgical sympathectomy augmented anastomotic leak. Furthermore, stimulation of this receptor led to profound changes in the microbial composition, likely because of altered epithelial antimicrobial peptide secretion. Thus, we established that adrenergic receptor α2A is the molecular delegate of intestinal epithelial sympathetic activity controlling epithelial proliferation, differentiation, and host defense. Therefore, this receptor could serve as a newly identified molecular target to improve mucosal healing in intestinal inflammation and wounding.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17990
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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