Visceral pain (VP) is a global problem with complex etiologies and limited therapeutic options. Guanylyl cyclase C (GUCY2C), an intestinal receptor producing cyclic GMP(cGMP), which regulates luminal fluid secretion, has emerged as a therapeutic target for VP. Indeed, FDA-approved GUCY2C agonists ameliorate VP in patients with chronic constipation syndromes, although analgesic mechanisms remain obscure. Here, we revealed that intestinal GUCY2C was selectively enriched in neuropod cells, a type of enteroendocrine cell that synapses with submucosal neurons in mice and humans. GUCY2Chi neuropod cells associated with cocultured dorsal root ganglia neurons and induced hyperexcitability, reducing the rheobase and increasing the resulting number of evoked action potentials. Conversely, the GUCY2C agonist linaclotide eliminated neuronal hyperexcitability produced by GUCY2C-sufficient - but not GUCY2C-deficient - neuropod cells, an effect independent of bulk epithelial cells or extracellular cGMP. Genetic elimination of intestinal GUCY2C amplified nociceptive signaling in VP that was comparable with chemically induced VP but refractory to linaclotide. Importantly, eliminating GUCY2C selectively in neuropod cells also increased nociceptive signaling and VP that was refractory to linaclotide. In the context of loss of GUCY2C hormones in patients with VP, these observations suggest a specific role for neuropod GUCY2C signaling in the pathophysiology and treatment of these pain syndromes.
Barton, Joshua R.; Londregran, Annie K.; Alexander, Tyler D.; Entezari, Ariana A.; Bar-Ad, Shely; Cheng, Lan; Lepore, Angelo C.; Snook, Adam E.; Covarrubias, Manuel; and Waldman, Scott A., "Intestinal Neuropod Cell GUCY2C Regulates Visceral Pain" (2023). Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Faculty Papers. Paper 151.
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