Mucus production by goblet cells in the gastrointestinal tract following Salmonella typhimurium infection using a ligated ileal loop model in mice was investigated. Assessment of the morphology of the loop tissue after Salmonella challenge revealed generalized tissue inflammation, characterized by edema and an inflammatory cell infiltrate. Villi were shortened and blunted, and crypts contained an increased number of cells with mitotic figures. Production of TNFα in the loops followed Salmonella challenge and occurred at the same time as the pathological sequelae. A nearly 50% decrease in the number of goblet cells in infected tissue compared to tissue from noninfected controls was observed at these same times. The sulfation of mucins produced by the goblet cells in infected tissues was increased in the villi but was unchanged in the crypts compared to uninfected tissues. Treatment of mice with antibody to TNFα before Salmonella challenge abrogated tissue pathology and returned goblet cell numbers and mucin profiles to those observed in noninfected controls. Our results indicate that TNFα may mediate changes in goblet cell expression and mucin sulfation in response to Salmonella challenge.
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