Neonatal Colonic Inflammation Epigenetically Aggravates Epithelial Inflammatory Responses to Injury in Adult Life

Xiaoying S. Zhong, John H. Winston, Xiuju Luo, Kevin T. Kline, Syed Z. Nayeem, Yingzi Cong, Tor C. Savidge, Roderick H. Dashwood, Don Powell, Qingjie Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Early life adversity is considered a risk factor for the development of gastrointestinal diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease. We hypothesized that early life colonic inflammation causes susceptibility to aggravated overexpression of interleukin (IL)1β. Methods: We developed a 2-hit rat model in which neonatal inflammation (NI) and adult inflammation (AI) were induced by trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid. Results: Aggravated immune responses were observed in NI + AI rats, including a sustained up-regulation of IL1β and other cytokines. In parallel with exacerbated loss of inhibitor of kappa B alpha expression, NI + AI rats showed hyperacetylation of histone H4K12 and increased V-Rel Avian Reticuloendotheliosis Viral Oncogene Homolog A binding on the IL1B promoter, accompanied by high levels of norepinephrine/epinephrine. Propranolol, a β-blocker, markedly ameliorated the inflammatory response and IL1β overexpression by mitigating against epigenetic modifications. Adrenalectomy abrogated NI-induced disease susceptibility whereas yohimbine sensitized the epithelium for exacerbated immune response. The macrophages of NI rats produced more IL1β than controls after exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), suggesting hypersensitization; incubation with LPS plus Foradil (Sigma, St. Louis, MO), a β2-agonist, induced a greater IL1β expression than LPS alone. Epinephrine and Foradil also exacerbated LPS-induced IL1β activation in human THP-1–derived macrophages, by increasing acetylated H4K12, and these increases were abrogated by propranolol. Conclusions: NI sensitizes the colon epithelium for exacerbated IL1β activation by increasing stress hormones that induce histone hyperacetylation, allowing greater access of nuclear factor-κB to the IL1B promoter and rendering the host susceptible to aggravated immune responses. Our findings suggest that β blockers have a therapeutic potential for inflammatory bowel disease susceptibility and establish a novel paradigm whereby NI induces epigenetic susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Early Life Adversity
  • Epinephrine
  • Histone Acetylation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • NF-κB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


Dive into the research topics of 'Neonatal Colonic Inflammation Epigenetically Aggravates Epithelial Inflammatory Responses to Injury in Adult Life'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this