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The NHE3 Inhibitor Tenapanor Prevents Intestinal Obstructions in CFTR-Deleted Mice

Mutations in the CFTR chloride channel result in intestinal obstructive episodes in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients and in CF animal models. In this study, we explored the possibility of reducing the frequency of obstructive episodes in cftr-/- mice through the oral application of a gut-selective NHE3 inhibitor tenapanor and searched for the underlying mechanisms involved. Sex- and age-matched cftr+/+ and cftr-/- mice were orally gavaged twice daily with 30 mg kg-1 tenapanor or vehicle for a period of 21 days. Body weight and stool water content was assessed daily and gastrointestinal transit time (GTT) once weekly. The mice were sacrificed when an intestinal obstruction was suspected or after 21 days, and stool and tissues were collected for further analysis. Twenty-one day tenapanor application resulted in a significant increase in stool water content and stool alkalinity and a significant decrease in GTT in cftr+/+ and cftr-/- mice. Tenapanor significantly reduced obstructive episodes to 8% compared to 46% in vehicle-treated cftr-/- mice and prevented mucosal inflammation. A decrease in cryptal hyperproliferation, mucus accumulation, and mucosal mast cell number was also observed in tenapanor- compared to vehicle-treated, unobstructed cftr-/- mice. Overall, oral tenapanor application prevented obstructive episodes in CFTR-deficient mice and was safe in cftr+/+ and cftr-/- mice. These results suggest that tenapanor may be a safe and affordable adjunctive therapy in cystic fibrosis patients to alleviate constipation and prevent recurrent DIOS.

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