Recently discovered gut protein found to influence constipation

March 30, 2022
Recently discovered gut protein found to influence constipation

Researchers from Australia’s Flinders University have identified a touch sensitive protein in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or gut, suspected to help with motility. The protein, Piezo2, is normally found in the skin: in the gut, Piezo2 is expressed in both mouse and human enterochromaffin (EC) cells where it senses and reacts to the presence of food.

“The cells then respond by releasing serotonin to stimulate gut contractions and push the food along,” said Lauren Jones, final year graduate student in the College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University.

The Flinders research team also discovered that a decrease in the levels of Piezo2 in the gut with age reduces gut motility and leads to constipation, as does removal of Piezo2 from EC cells.

“Age-related constipation affects 1 in 2 adults over the age of 80, whilst constipation generally affects almost everyone at some point throughout their life,” said Jones. “It’s extremely important we increase our understanding of the underlying mechanisms, so that we can find targeted solutions to improve the quality of life of the many people who suffer daily from various gut disorders, including age-related constipation.

“This research provides the building blocks for both further research and the development of highly specific treatments to reduce the impacts of constipation. We now have the potential to create treatments that are taken orally and only directly impact [EC] cells that line the gut, therefore significantly reducing side effects typically seen with many of the current medications.”

The discovery of Piezo2 was the focus of a distinguished award in 2021 – international researchers Ardem Patapoutian and David Julius were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research on receptors responsible for the perception of touch and temperature, including the discovery of Piezo2, known to be responsible for sensing light touch on our skin, and now, for gut motility.

Read: Protein that suppresses inflammation controlled by healthy gut bacteria


Category: Education, Features

Comments are closed.