P015 Tricellulin overexpression protects against elevated macromolecule uptake in DSS colitis mice

F. WEIß1, I.F.M. Lee1, A. Fromm1, J.C.E. Hu1, T. Breiderhoff2, M. Fromm1, J.D. Schulzke1, S.M. Krug1

1Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Institute of Clinical Physiology, Berlin, Germany, 2Charité, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Nephrology, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany


In Inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal homeostasis cannot be sustained due to an overreaction of the immune system and a disturbed epithelial barrier due to an impaired tight junction (TJ). At tricellular TJs (tTJs), which are formed where three cells meet, the TJ network is basolaterally expanded and forms a central tube which would be potentially large enough to allow for a paracellular passage of macromolecules. Under normal conditions, the tTJ protein tricellulin (Tric) seals the central tube against luminal uptake. However, in ulcerative colitis (UC), Tric is downregulated, resulting in increased uptake of macromolecules including antigens which may further support the inflammatory processes. Thus, we aimed to identify whether or not overexpression of Tric has a protective effect against inflammation.


We generated intestinal epithelial cell-specific overexpression of Tric in mice (B6.C-Tg(Vil-cre) Rosa26tgGFP-Tric). In Tric-overexpressing (Tric-OE) and in wild-type (wt) mice experimental colitis was induced by 3% dextran sodium sulphate (DSS) for 6 days. The effect was assessed by determining the disease activity index (DAI: weight loss, stool consistency, and stool bleeding) and the colon dimensions. Using chamber experiments were performed to determine permeabilities for ions and macromolecules of different sizes (4 and 10 kDa).


No difference in weight loss was observed between wt and Tric-OE mice upon DSS treatment. However, Tric-OE mice suffered less from diarrhoea and had less bloody stools compared with wt mice resulting in a lower DAI. In addition, DSS caused a reduced colon length which was less prominent in Tric-OE mice than in wt mice. Functional analysis revealed higher permeabilities for Na+ and Cl after DSS treatment with no significant differences between Tric-OE and wt mice. In contrast, permeabilities for macromolecules of both sizes were unchanged after DSS treatment in Tric-OE mice but elevated in wt-mice.


Tric-overexpression prevents the epithelial barrier from elevated paracellular uptake of macromolecules during DSS colitis without affecting ion permeability. This protects against DSS colitis as indicated by less affected clinical and structural outcome parameters, most likely via a reduction in a load of immunologically active macromolecules in the subepithelium.