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A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Intestinal Dilation in Trypanosoma cruzi–infected Mice Deficient in Nitric Oxide Synthase

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  • 1 Department of Oncology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, SE-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden; Departments of Physiology and Biophysics, Pathology, Medicine, and Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York; School of Pure and Applied Natural Sciences, University of Kalmar, Kalmar, Sweden; Department of Pathology, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden; Division of Molecular Immunology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; Department of Biochemistry and Immunology, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Infection with Trypanosoma cruzi causes megasyndromes of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to monitor alterations in the GI tract of T. cruzi–infected mice, and to assess the role of nitric oxide (NO) in the development of intestinal dilation. Brazil strain–infected C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) mice exhibited dilatation of the intestines by 30 days post-infection. Average intestine lumen diameter increased by 72%. Levels of intestinal NO synthase (NOS) isoforms, NOS2 and NOS3, were elevated in infected WT mice. Inflammation and ganglionitis were observed in all infected mice. Intestinal dilation was observed in infected WT, NOS1, NOS2, and NOS3 null mice. This study demonstrates that MRI is a useful tool to monitor intestinal dilation in living mice and that these alterations may begin during acute infection. Furthermore, our data strongly suggests that NO may not be the sole contributor to intestinal dysfunction resulting from this infection.

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