Intestinal mucosa is continuously exposed to mechanical forces. We examined whether pressure loading activates mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and expression of early immediate genes in intestinal epithelial cells. Pressure was applied to IEC18 cells by helium gas in a culture flask and pressure-induced cell proliferation was examined. The expression of early immediate genes, MAPK activity, and activation of nuclear factor activator protein-1 (AP-1) were also examined. Pressures significantly promoted cell proliferation with peak effect at 80 mm Hg. Pretreatment with either a protein kinase C inhibitor or tyrosine kinase inhibitors, but not calcium chelating agents significantly inhibited cell proliferation promoted by pressure. Early inductions of c-myc and c-fos proteins, increased activity of MAPK, and activation of AP-1 were observed by pressure loading. Our study showed that intestinal mucosal cell proliferation is promoted by mechanical pressure and various intracellular signaling pathways are involved in the process.
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