Environmental Factors Modify the Severity of Acute DSS Colitis in Caspase-11-Deficient Mice.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Human and mouse studies implicate the inflammasome in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases, though the effects in mice are variable. The noncanonical inflammasome activator caspase-11 (Casp11) reportedly attenuates acute dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) colitis in mice. However, the effects of Casp11 on chronic experimental colitis and factors that influence the impact of Casp11 on acute DSS colitis are unknown.


We studied the role of Casp11 in Il10-/- mice and acute and chronic DSS colitis mouse models. We quantified colonic Casp11 mRNA using quantative polymerase chain reaction and colitis using weight loss, blinded histological scoring, IL-12/23p40 secretion by colonic explants, and fecal lipocalin-2. We determined fecal microbial composition using 16S amplicon sequencing.


We detected increased colonic Casp11 mRNA in Il10-/- mice with chronic colitis, but not in mice with DSS colitis. The presence of Casp11 did not alter the severity of chronic colitis in DSS-treated or Il10-/- mice. Contrary to prior reports, we initially observed that Casp11 exacerbates acute DSS colitis. Subsequent experiments in the same animal facility revealed no effect of Casp11 on acute DSS colitis. There were pronounced stochastic changes in the fecal microbiome over this time. The majority of bacterial taxa that changed over time in wild-type vs Casp11-/- mice belong to the Clostridiales.


Casp11 does not impact chronic experimental colitis, and its effects on acute DSS colitis vary with environmental factors including the microbiota, particularly Clostridiales. Stochastic drifts in intestinal microbiota composition, even in mice in the same housing facility, should be considered when interpreting studies of acute DSS colitis models.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Fan, T-J; Tchaptchet, SY; Arsene, D; Mishima, Y; Liu, B; Sartor, RB; Carroll, IM; Miao, EA; Fodor, AA; Hansen, JJ

Published Date

  • October 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 2394 - 2403

PubMed ID

  • 30312415

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6185382

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1536-4844

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1078-0998

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/ibd/izy244


  • eng