A novel neuropeptide spexin was found to be broadly expressed in various endocrine and nervous tissues while little is known about its functions. This study investigated the role of spexin in bowel movement and the underlying mechanisms. In functional constipation (FC) patients, serum spexin levels were significantly decreased. Consistently, in starved mice, the mRNA of spexin was significantly decreased in intestine and colon. Spexin injection increased the velocity of carbon powder propulsion in small intestine and decreased the glass beads expulsion time in distal colon in mice. Further, spexin dose-dependently stimulated the intestinal/colonic smooth muscle contraction. Galanin receptor 2 (GALR2) antagonist M871, but not Galanin receptor 3 (GALR3) antagonist SNAP37899, effectively suppressed the stimulatory effects of spexin on intestinal/colonic smooth muscle contraction, which could be eliminated by extracellular [Ca2+] removal and L-type voltage-dependentCa2+ channel (VDCC) inhibitor nifedipine. Besides, spexin dramatically increased the [Ca2+]i in isolated colonic smooth muscle cells. These data indicate that spexin can act on GALR2 receptor to regulate bowel motility by activating L-type VDCC. Our findings provide evidence for important physiological roles of spexin in GI functions. Selective action on spexin pathway might have therapeutic effects on GI diseases with motility disorders.
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