AIM: To investigate chronic stress as a susceptibility factor for developing pancreatitis, as well as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) as a putative sensitizer.
METHODS: Rat pancreatic acini were used to analyze the influence of TNF-α on submaximal (50 pmol/L) cholecystokinin (CCK) stimulation. Chronic restraint (4 h every day for 21 d) was used to evaluate the effects of submaximal (0.2 μg/kg per hour) cerulein stimulation on chronically stressed rats.
RESULTS: In vitro exposure of pancreatic acini to TNF-α disorganized the actin cytoskeleton. This was further increased by TNF-α/CCK treatment, which additionally reduced amylase secretion, and increased trypsin and nuclear factor-κB activities in a protein-kinase-C δ and ε-dependent manner. TNF-α/CCK also enhanced caspases’ activity and lactate dehydrogenase release, induced ATP loss, and augmented the ADP/ATP ratio. In vivo, rats under chronic restraint exhibited elevated serum and pancreatic TNF-α levels. Serum, pancreatic, and lung inflammatory parameters, as well as caspases’activity in pancreatic and lung tissue, were substantially enhanced in stressed/cerulein-treated rats, which also experienced tissues’ ATP loss and greater ADP/ATP ratios. Histological examination revealed that stressed/cerulein-treated animals developed abundant pancreatic and lung edema, hemorrhage and leukocyte infiltrate, and pancreatic necrosis. Pancreatitis severity was greatly decreased by treating animals with an anti-TNF-α-antibody, which diminished all inflammatory parameters, histopathological scores, and apoptotic/necrotic markers in stressed/cerulein-treated rats.
CONCLUSION: In rats, chronic stress increases susceptibility for developing pancreatitis, which involves TNF-α sensitization of pancreatic acinar cells to undergo injury by physiological cerulein stimulation.