World journal of gastroenterology

Dextran sulfate sodium-induced acute colitis impairs dermal lymphatic function in mice.

PMID 26668501


To investigate whether dermal lymphatic function and architecture are systemically altered in dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced acute colitis. Balb/c mice were administered 4% DSS in lieu of drinking water ad libitum for 7 d and monitored to assess disease activity including body weight, diarrhea severity, and fecal bleeding. Control mice received standard drinking water with no DSS. Changes in mesenteric lymphatics were assessed following oral administration of a fluorescently-labelled fatty acid analogue, while dermal lymphatic function and architecture was longitudinally characterized using dynamic near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging following intradermal injection of indocyanine green (ICG) at the base of the tail or to the dorsal aspect of the left paw prior to, 4, and 7 d after DSS administration. We also measured dye clearance rate after injection of Alexa680-bovine serum albumin (BSA). NIRF imaging data was analyzed to reveal lymphatic contractile activity after selecting fixed regions of interest (ROIs) of the same size in fluorescent lymphatic vessels on fluorescence images. The averaged fluorescence intensity within the ROI of each fluorescence image was plotted as a function of imaging time and the lymphatic contraction frequency was computed by assessing the number of fluorescent pulses arriving at a ROI. Mice treated with DSS developed acute inflammation with clinical symptoms of loss of body weight, loose feces/watery diarrhea, and fecal blood, all of which were aggravated as disease progressed to 7 d. Histological examination of colons of DSS-treated mice confirmed acute inflammation, characterized by segmental to complete loss of colonic mucosa with an associated chronic inflammatory cell infiltrate that extended into the deeper layers of the wall of the colon, compared to control mice. In situ intravital imaging revealed that mice with acute colitis showed significantly fewer fluorescent mesenteric lymphatic vessels, indicating impaired uptake of a lipid tracer within mesenteric lymphatics. Our in vivo NIRF imaging data demonstrated dilated dermal lymphatic vessels, which were confirmed by immunohistochemical staining of lymphatic vessels, and significantly reduced lymphatic contractile function in the skin of mice with DSS-induced acute colitis. Quantification of the fluorescent intensity remaining in the depot as a function of time showed that there was significantly higher Alexa680-BSA fluorescence in mice with DSS-induced acute colitis compared to pre-treatment with DSS, indicative of impaired lymphatic drainage. The lymphatics are locally and systemically altered in acute colitis, and functional NIRF imaging is useful for noninvasively monitoring systemic lymphatic changes during inflammation.