A possible role for hypoxia-induced apelin expression in enteric cell proliferation

Song Han, Guiyun Wang, Xiang Qi, Heung M. Lee, Ella W. Englander, George H. Greeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Apelin is the endogenous ligand for the APJ receptor, and apelin and APJ are expressed in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Intestinal inflammation increases intestinal hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) and apelin expression. Hypoxia and inflammation are closely linked cellular insults. The purpose of these studies was to investigate the influence of hypoxia on enteric apelin expression. Exposure of rat pups to acute hypoxia increased hepatic, stomach-duodenal, and colonic apelin mRNA levels 10-, 2-, and 2-fold, respectively (P < 0.05 vs. controls). Hypoxia also increased colonic APJ mRNA levels, and apelin treatment during hypoxia exposure enhanced colonic APJ mRNA levels further. In vitro hypoxia also increased apelin and APJ mRNA levels. The hypoxia-induced elevation in apelin expression is most likely mediated by HIF, since HIF-activated apelin transcriptional activity is dependent on an intact, putative HIF binding site in the rat apelin promoter. Acute exposure of rat pups to hypoxia lowered gastric and colonic epithelial cell proliferation; hypoxia in combination with apelin treatment increased epithelial proliferation by 50%. In vitro apelin treatment of enteric cells exposed to hypoxia increased cell proliferation. Apelin treatment during normoxia was ineffective. Our studies imply that the elevation in apelin expression during hypoxia and inflammation in the GI tract functions in part to stimulate epithelial cell proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1832-R1839
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Inflammation
  • Peptide
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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