Diabetes impairs enteric nervous system functions; however, ultrastructural changes underlying the pathophysiology of the myenteric plexus and the effects of sodium-glucose co-transporter (SGLT) inhibitors are poorly understood. This study aimed to investigate three-dimensional ultrastructural changes in axonal varicosities in the myenteric plexus and the effect thereon of the SGLT inhibitor phlorizin in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD). Three-dimensional ultrastructural analysis using serial block-face imaging revealed that non-treated HFD-fed mice had fewer axonal varicosities and synaptic vesicles in the myenteric plexus than did normal diet-fed control mice. Furthermore, mitochondrial volume was increased and lysosome number decreased in the axons of non-treated HFD-fed mice when compared to those of control mice. Phlorizin treatment restored the axonal varicosities and organelles in HFD-fed mice. Although HFD did not affect the immunolocalisation of PGP9.5, it reduced synaptophysin immunostaining in the myenteric plexus, which was restored by phlorizin treatment. These results suggest that impairment of the axonal varicosities and their synaptic vesicles underlies the damage to the enteric neurons caused by HFD feeding. SGLT inhibitor treatment could restore axonal varicosities and organelles, which may lead to improved gastrointestinal functions in HFD-induced obesity as well as diabetes.
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