Hypoxia-induced intestinal barrier changes in balloon-assisted enteroscopy

Tsung Chun Lee, Yi Chen Huang, Yen Zhen Lu, Yu Chang Yeh, Linda Chia Hui Yu

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Key points: Balloon-assisted enteroscopy (BAE) is an emerging standard procedure by utilizing distensible balloons to facilitate deep endoscopy in the small and large intestine. Sporadic cases of bacteraemia were found after BAE. Balloon distension by BAE caused gut tissue hypoxia. The impact of balloon distension-induced hypoxia on intestinal barriers remains unclear. Murine models of BAE by colonic balloon distension showed that short- and long-term hypoxia evoked opposite effects on epithelial tight junctions (TJs). Short-term hypoxia fortified TJ integrity, whereas long-term hypoxia caused damage to barrier function. Our data showed for the first time the molecular mechanisms and signalling pathways of epithelial barrier fortification and TJ reorganization by short-term hypoxia for the maintenance of gut homeostasis. The findings suggest avoiding prolonged balloon distension during BAE to reduce the risk of hypoxia-induced gut barrier dysfunction. Abstract: Balloon-assisted enteroscopy (BAE) is an emerging standard procedure that uses distensible balloons to facilitate deep endoscopy. Intestines are known to harbour an abundant microflora. Whether balloon distension causes perturbation of blood flow and gut barrier dysfunction, and elicits risk of bacterial translocation remains unknown. Our aims were to (1) conduct a prospective study to gather microbiological and molecular evidence of bacterial translocation by BAE in patients, (2) establish a murine model of colonic balloon distension to investigate tissue hypoxia and intestinal barrier, and (3) assess the effect of short- and long-term hypoxia on epithelial permeability using cell lines. Thirteen patients were enrolled for BAE procedures, and blood samples were obtained before and after BAE for paired comparison. Four of the 13 patients (30.8%) had positive bacterial DNA in blood after BAE. Post-BAE endotoxaemia was higher than the pre-BAE level. Nevertheless, no clinical symptom of sepsis or fever was reported. To mimic clinical BAE, mice were subjected to colonic balloon distension. Local tissue hypoxia was observed during balloon inflation, and reoxygenation after deflation. A trend of increased gut permeability was seen after long-term distension, whereas a significant reduction of permeability was observed by short-term distension in the proximal colon. Human colonic epithelial Caco-2 cells exposed to hypoxia for 5–20 min exhibited increased tight junctional assembly, while those exposed to longer hypoxia displayed barrier disruption. In conclusion, sporadic cases of bacteraemia were found after BAE, without septic symptoms. Short-term hypoxia by balloon distension yielded a protective effect whereas long-term hypoxia caused damage to the gut barrier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3411-3424
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • bacteremia
  • bacterial translocation
  • balloon-assisted enteroscopy
  • hypoxia
  • intestinal barrier
  • tight junction

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