Selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase isoenzymes-1 and -2 are the major glutathione-dependent H2O2-reducing activities in the epithelium of the mid to lower gastrointestinal tract. The two isoenzymes protect mice against ileocolitis. We have found that luminal microflora are required for colitis to develop in mice deficient in GPX-1 and GPX-2 activity (GPX-DKO). Within 7 days of association with microflora, previously asymptomatic germfree GPX-DKO mice developed severe acute colitis while their littermates with at least one wildtype Gpx1 or Gpx2 gene remained virtually symptomfree. Microflora also affected Gpx2 gene expression. Gpx2, but not Gpx1, mRNA levels were elevated 4-5 fold in the ileum and colon in conventionally reared or microflora-associated adult mice compared with germ-free mice. Since the gastrointestinal tract microflora undergo major changes 2-3 weeks after birth, from relatively benign to a potentially stressful composition, we examined postnatal Gpx2 gene expression. The jejunal and ileal GPX-2 activity levels were low in two to three weekold mice and increased 5-7 fold during the next two weeks. GPX-2 activity levels were correlated with the mRNA levels. Colon Gpx2 mRNA levels held steady at about 50% of adult levels from 12-21 days of age but were several times higher than ileal levels. Our results suggest that ileal Gpx2 mRNA and GPX-2 activity levels are induced by luminal microflora. This response is consistent with a role for GPX as an antiinflammatory activity.
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