Mechanical stimuli affect Escherichia coli heat-stable enterotoxin-cyclic GMP signaling in a human enteroid intestine-chip model

Laxmi Sunuwar, Jianyi Yin, Magdalena Kasendra, Katia Karalis, James Kaper, James Fleckenstein, Mark Donowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Modeling host-pathogen interactions with human intestinal epithelia using enteroid monolayers on permeable supports (such as Transwells) represents an alternative to animal studies or use of colon cancer-derived cell lines. However, the static monolayer model does not expose epithelial cells to mechanical forces normally present in the intestine, including luminal flow and serosal blood flow (shear force) or peristaltic forces. To determine the contribution of mechanical forces in the functional response of human small intestine to a virulence factor of a pathogenic intestinal bacterium, human jejunal enteroids were cultured as monolayers in microengineered fluidic-based Organ-Chips (Intestine-Chips) exposed to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli heat-stable enterotoxin A (ST) and evaluated under conditions of static fluid, apical and basolateral flow, and flow plus repetitive stretch. Application of flow increased epithelial cell height and apical and basolateral secretion of cyclic GMP (cGMP) under baseline, unstimulated conditions. Addition of ST under flow conditions increased apical and basolateral secretion of cGMP relative to the level under static conditions but did not enhance intracellular cGMP accumulation. Cyclic stretch did not have any significant effect beyond that contributed by flow. This study demonstrates that fluid flow application initiates changes in intestinal epithelial cell characteristics relative to those of static culture conditions under both baseline conditions and with exposure to ST enterotoxin and suggests that further investigations of the application of these mechanical forces will provide insights into physiology and pathophysiology that more closely resemble intact intestine than study under static conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00866-19
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • ETEC
  • Enteroids
  • Heat-stable enterotoxin
  • Intestine-Chip
  • Mechanical stress
  • Peristalsis


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