Background: Intestinal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is believed to be the major initiator of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome. As a result of intestinal I/R, the gut becomes a major source of inflammatory cytokine production. We have previously shown that heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) is cytoprotective after intestinal I/R and down-regulates pro-inflammatory cytokine production in vitro. We now examine the effects of HB-EGF on pro-inflammatory cytokine expression in vivo. Materials and methods: Rats were randomized into three groups: sham-operated, superior mesenteric artery occlusion (SMAO) for 90 min followed by 8 h of reperfusion (I/R), and I/R with intraluminal administration of HB-EGF 25 min after the initiation of ischemia (I/R + HB-EGF). Serum was drawn at 2, 4, 6, and 8 h post reperfusion for determination of cytokine protein levels using a bioplex suspension array system. Additional animals underwent the same ischemic protocol followed by 30 and 60 min of reperfusion with harvesting of ileal mucosa. Ileal pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression was determined using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with primers specific for TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β. Results: HB-EGF decreased TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β serum protein levels at 4, 6, and 8 h after intestinal I/R injury. In addition, HB-EGF decreased local intestinal mucosal mRNA expression of TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β 30 and 60 min after intestinal injury. Conclusions: We conclude that pro-inflammatory cytokine expression is increased both locally and in the systemic circulation after intestinal I/R and that the administration of HB-EGF significantly reduces intestinal I/R-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine expression in vivo.
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