Bacterial translocation (BT) from the gastrointestinal tract to mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) and other extraintestinal organs is an important source of infection in acute pancreatitis (AP). Epidermal growth factor (EGF), a peptide hormone with trophic effects on gut mucosa, has decreased intestinal mucosal injury in septic rats and decreased burn-induced BT in mice. The purpose of this study is to examine whether EGF could affect BT in acute necrotizing pancreatitis. Forty-eight male Sprague-Dawley rats (250- 350 g) were studied. AP was induced in Group I and Group II by pressure injection of 3% taurocholate and trypsin into the biliopancreatic duct (1 ml/kg of body weight). Group III and Group IV underwent laparotomy without induction of acute pancreatitis. Group I rats received human recombinant EGF (100 μg/kg, subcutaneously twice daily) and Group II rats received a similar volume of 0.1% bovine serum albumin as a placebo postoperatively. Group III and Group IV received EGF and placebo, respectively. At 48 hr postoperatively, blood was drawn for culture and amylase determinations. Jejunum and ileum were obtained to measure mucosal protein content, mucosal thickness, villus height, and crypt depth. Specimens from MLN, spleen, liver, pancreas, and cecum were harvested for pathology and culture of gram positive (G+), gram negative (G-), and anaerobic bacteria. Heal mucosal protein levels were increased significantly in Group I (1.96 ± 0.14 mg/cm) compared to Group II (0.95 ± 0.15 mg/cm intestinal segment) (P < 0.01). Jejunal and ileal mucosal thickness, villus height, and crypt depth in Group I were significantly increased when compared to Group II (P < 0.05). All 12 rats in Group II had BT to MLN compared to 58% (7 of 12 rats) in Group I (P < 0.05). Thirty-three percent (4 of 12 rats) had BT to distant sites such as pancreas, spleen, liver, and/or blood in Group I vs 83% (10 of 12 rats) in Group II (P < 0.05). EGF treatment minimizes intestinal damage, decreases BT to MLN and bacterial spread to distant sites, and may be beneficial in preventing septic complications in AP.
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