Ret heterozygous mice have enhanced intestinal adaptation after massive small bowel resection

Meredith C. Hitch, Jennifer A. Leinicke, Derek Wakeman, Jun Guo, Chris R. Erwin, Kathryn J. Rowland, Ellen C. Merrick, Robert O. Heuckeroth, Brad W. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Intestinal adaptation is an important compensatory response to massive small bowel resection (SBR) and occurs because of a proliferative stimulus to crypt enterocytes by poorly understood mechanisms. Recent studies suggest the enteric nervous system (ENS) influences enterocyte proliferation. We, therefore, sought to determine whether ENS dysfunction alters resection-induced adaptation responses. Ret+/- mice with abnormal ENS function and wild-type (WT) littermates underwent sham surgery or 50% SBR. After 7 days, ileal morphology, enterocyte proliferation, apoptosis, and selected signaling proteins were characterized. Crypt depth and villus height were equivalent at baseline in WT and Ret+/- mice. In contrast after SBR, Ret+/- mice had longer villi (Ret+/- 426.7 ± 46.0 μm vs. WT 306.5 ± 7.7 μm, P < 0.001) and deeper crypts (Ret+/- 119 ± 3.4 μm vs. WT 82.4 ± 3.1 μm, P < 0.001) than WT. Crypt enterocyte proliferation was higher in Ret+/- (48.8 ± 1.3%) than WT (39.9 ± 2.1%; P < 0.001) after resection, but apoptosis rates were similar. Remnant bowel of Ret+/- mice also had higher levels of glucagon-like peptide 2 (6.2-fold, P = 0.005) and amphiregulin (4.6-fold, P < 0.001) mRNA after SBR, but serum glucagon-like peptide 2 protein levels were equal in WT and Ret+/- mice, and there was no evidence of increased c-Fos nuclear localization in submucosal neurons. Western blot confirmed higher crypt epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein levels (1.44-fold; P < 0.001) and more phosphorylated EGFR (2-fold; P = 0.003) in Ret+/- than WT mice after SBR. These data suggest that Ret heterozygosity enhances intestinal adaptation after massive SBR, likely via enhanced EGFR signaling. Reducing Ret activity or altering ENS function may provide a novel strategy to enhance adaptation attenuating morbidity in patients with short bowel syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G1143-G1150
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2012


  • Enteric nervous system
  • Epidermal growth factor receptor
  • Short bowel syndrome


Dive into the research topics of 'Ret heterozygous mice have enhanced intestinal adaptation after massive small bowel resection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this