Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is characterized by hepatic lipid accumulation combined with inflammation, which can ultimately progress into cirrhosis. Recently, we demonstrated that deletion of scavenger receptors (SR) CD36 and SR-A in haematopoietic cells reduced hepatic inflammation. In addition to uptake of modified lipoproteins, CD36 and SR-A are also involved in other functions that can activate the inflammatory response. Therefore, the actual trigger for SR activation during NASH is unclear. Here, we hypothesized that hepatic inflammation is triggered by recognition of oxidized LDL (oxLDL) by Kupffer cells (KCs).
To inhibit recognition of oxLDL by KCs, Ldlr−/− mice were immunized with heat-inactivated pneumococci, which were shown to induce the production of anti-oxLDL IgM antibodies, due to molecular mimicry with oxLDL. The mice received a high fat cholesterol (HFC) diet during the last 3 weeks to induce NASH.
Immunization with pneumococci increased anti-oxLDL IgM levels and led to a reduction in hepatic inflammation, as shown by reduced macrophage, neutrophil and T-cell infiltration, and reduced gene expression of Tnf, Il-6, Il-1β, Mcp1 and fibrosis related genes. In immunized mice, KCs were smaller and showed less cholesterol crystals compared to non-immunized mice.
Antibodies to oxLDL play an important role in the pathogenesis of NASH. Therefore, the potential of PC-based vaccination strategies as a novel tool for the prevention and therapy of NASH should be tested in future.
Liver; Inflammation; Kupffer cells; Cholesterol; Pneumococci
Clinical interest in de novo lipogenesis has been sparked by recent studies in rodents demonstrating that de novo lipogenesis specifically in white adipose tissue produces the insulin-sensitizing fatty acid palmitoleate. By contrast, hepatic lipogenesis is thought to contribute to metabolic disease. How de novo lipogenesis in white adipose tissue versus liver is altered in human obesity and insulin resistance is poorly understood. Here we show that lipogenic enzymes and the glucose transporter-4 are markedly decreased in white adipose tissue of insulin-resistant obese individuals compared with non-obese controls. By contrast, lipogenic enzymes are substantially upregulated in the liver of obese subjects. Bariatric weight loss restored de novo lipogenesis and glucose transporter-4 gene expression in white adipose tissue. Notably, lipogenic gene expression in both white adipose tissue and liver was strongly linked to the expression of carbohydrate-responsive element-binding protein-β and to metabolic risk markers. Thus, de novo lipogenesis predicts metabolic health in humans in a tissue-specific manner and is likely regulated by glucose-dependent carbohydrate-responsive element-binding protein activation.
Early identification of acute mesenteric ischemia (AMI) is challenging. The wide variability in clinical presentation challenges providers to make an early accurate diagnosis. Despite major diagnostic and treatment advances over the past decades, mortality remains high. Arterial embolus and superior mesenteric artery thrombosis are common causes of AMI. Non-occlusive causes are less common, but vasculitis may be important, especially in younger people. Because of the unclear clinical presentation and non-specific laboratory findings, low clinical suspicion may lead to loss of valuable time. During this diagnostic delay, progression of ischemia to transmural bowel infarction with peritonitis and septicemia may further worsen patient outcomes. Several diagnostic modalities are used to assess possible AMI. Multi-detector row computed tomographic angiography is the current gold standard. Although computed tomographic angiography leads to an accurate diagnosis in many cases, early detection is a persistent problem. Because early diagnosis is vital to commence treatment, new diagnostic strategies are needed. A non-invasive simple biochemical test would be ideal to increase clinical suspicion of AMI and would improve patient selection for radiographic evaluation. Thus, AMI could be diagnosed earlier with follow-up computed tomographic angiography or high spatial magnetic resonance imaging. Experimental in vitro and in vivo studies show promise for alpha glutathione S transferase and intestinal fatty acid binding protein as markers for AMI. Future research must confirm the clinical utility of these biochemical markers in the diagnosis of mesenteric ischemia.
Acute mesenteric ischemia; Diagnosis; Biological markers; Intestinal fatty acid binding protein; Alpha-glutathione S transferase
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress play fundamental roles in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Previously, we reported that myeloperoxidase (MPO), an aggressive oxidant-generating neutrophil enzyme, is associated with NASH severity in man. We now investigated the hypothesis that MPO contributes to the development and progression of NASH.
Low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice with an MPO-deficient hematopoietic system (LDLR−/−/MPO−/−tp mice) were generated and compared with LDLR−/−/MPO+/+tp mice after induction of NASH by high-fat feeding.
High-fat feeding caused a ∼4-fold induction of liver MPO in LDLR−/−/MPO+/+ mice which was associated with hepatic sequestration of MPO-positive neutrophils and high levels of nitrotyrosine, a marker of MPO activity. Importantly, LDLR−/−/MPO−/−tp mice displayed markedly reduced hepatic neutrophil and T-lymphocyte infiltration (p<0.05), and strong down regulation of pro-inflammatory genes such as TNF-α and IL-6 (p<0.05, p<0.01) in comparison with LDLR−/−/MPO+/+tp mice. Next to the generalized reduction of inflammation, liver cholesterol accumulation was significantly diminished in LDLR−/−/MPO−/−tp mice (p = 0.01). Moreover, MPO deficiency appeared to attenuate the development of hepatic fibrosis as evident from reduced hydroxyproline levels (p<0.01). Interestingly, visceral adipose tissue inflammation was markedly reduced in LDLR−/−/MPO−/−tp mice, with a complete lack of macrophage crown-like structures. In conclusion, MPO deficiency attenuates the development of NASH and diminishes adipose tissue inflammation in response to a high fat diet, supporting an important role for neutrophils in the pathogenesis of metabolic disease.
Increased intestinal permeability is an important measure of disease activity and prognosis. Currently, many permeability tests are available and no consensus has been reached as to which test is most suitable. The aim of this study was to compare urinary probe excretion and accuracy of a polyethylene glycol (PEG) assay and dual sugar assay in a double-blinded crossover study to evaluate probe excretion and the accuracy of both tests.
Gastrointestinal permeability was measured in nine volunteers using PEG 400, PEG 1500, and PEG 3350 or lactulose-rhamnose. On 4 separate days, permeability was analyzed after oral intake of placebo or indomethacin, a drug known to increase intestinal permeability. Plasma intestinal fatty acid binding protein and calprotectin levels were determined to verify compromised intestinal integrity after indomethacin consumption. Urinary samples were collected at baseline, hourly up to 5 hours after probe intake, and between 5 and 24 hours. Urinary excretion of PEG and sugars was determined using high-pressure liquid chromatography-evaporative light scattering detection and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, respectively.
Intake of indomethacin increased plasma intestinal fatty acid-binding protein and calprotectin levels, reflecting loss of intestinal integrity and inflammation. In this state of indomethacin-induced gastrointestinal compromise, urinary excretion of the three PEG probes and lactulose increased compared with placebo. Urinary PEG 400 excretion, the PEG 3350/PEG 400 ratio, and the lactulose/rhamnose ratio could accurately detect indomethacin-induced increases in gastrointestinal permeability, especially within 2 hours of probe intake.
Hourly urinary excretion and diagnostic accuracy of PEG and sugar probes show high concordance for detection of indomethacin-induced increases in gastrointestinal permeability. This comparative study improves our knowledge of permeability analysis in man by providing a clear overview of both tests and demonstrates equivalent performance in the current setting.
gastrointestinal permeability; polyethylene glycol; dual sugar
Postoperative ileus (POI) is a well-known complication of abdominal surgery and is considered to be caused by a local inflammation in the gut. Previously it has been shown that both local and systemic inflammation can be reduced by stimulation of the autonomic nervous system via lipid rich nutrition. Stimulation of the autonomic nervous system releases acetylcholine from efferent vagal nerve endings that binds to nicotinic receptors located on the inflammatory cells leading to a decrease of pro-inflammatory mediators. Besides administration of nutrition there are other ways of stimulating the autonomic nervous system such as gum chewing.
This prospective, placebo-controlled randomized trial will include 120 patients undergoing colorectal surgery which are randomized for gum chewing preoperatively and in the direct postoperative phase or a placebo. Postoperative ileus will be assessed both clinically by time to first flatus and time to first defecation and by determination of gastric motility using ultrasound to measure dimensions of the antrum. Furthermore the inflammatory response is quantified by analyzing pro-inflammatory mediators. Finally, markers of gut barrier integrity will be measured as well as occurrence of postoperative complications.
We hypothesize that chewing gum preoperatively and in the direct postoperative phase in patients undergoing colorectal surgery dampens local and systematic inflammation, via activation of the autonomic nervous system. Down-regulation of the inflammatory cascade via stimulation of the vagus nerve will ameleriote POI and enhance postoperative recovery.
Postoperative ileus; Chewing gum; Inflammation; Colorectal surgery; Autonomic nervous system
Background and study aims
Small intestinal ischemia-reperfusion (IR) is a frequent, potentially life threatening phenomenon. There is a lack of non-invasive diagnostic modalities. For many intestinal diseases, visualizing the intestinal mucosa using endoscopy is gold standard. However, limited knowledge exists on small intestinal IR-induced, early mucosal changes. The aims of this study were to investigate endoscopic changes in human jejunum exposed to IR, and to study concordance between endoscopic appearance and histology.
Patients and methods
In 23 patients a part of jejunum, to be removed for surgical reasons, was isolated and selectively exposed to ischemia with 0, 30 or 120 minutes of reperfusion. In 3 patients, a videocapsule was inserted in the isolated segment before exposure to IR, to visualize the mucosa. Endoscopic view at several time points was related to histology (Heamatoxylin & Eosin) obtained from 20 patients.
Ischemia was characterized by loss of villous structure, mucosal whitening and appearance of punctate lesions. This was related to appearance of subepithelial spaces and breaches in the epithelial lining in the histological view. Early during reperfusion, the lumen filled with IR-damaged, shed cells and VCE showed mucosal erosions, hemorrhage and intraluminal debris. At 60 minutes of reperfusion, the only remaining signs of IR were loss of villous structure and small erosions, indicating rapid mucosal healing.
This study shows a unique, real-time in vivo endoscopic view of early mucosal changes during IR of the human small intestine. Future studies should evaluate its usefulness in diagnosis of patients suspected of IR.
Impaired microcirculation during endotoxemia correlates with a disturbed arginine-nitric oxide (NO) metabolism and is associated with deteriorating organ function. Improving the organ perfusion in endotoxemia, as often seen in patients with severe infection or systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is, therefore, an important therapeutic target. We hypothesized that supplementation of the arginine precursor citrulline rather than arginine would specifically increase eNOS-induced intracellular NO production and thereby improve the microcirculation during endotoxemia.
To study the effects of L-Citrulline and L-Arginine supplementation on jejunal microcirculation, intracellular arginine availability and NO production in a non-lethal prolonged endotoxemia model in mice. C57/Bl6 mice received an 18 hrs intravenous infusion of endotoxin (LPS, 0.4 µg•g bodyweight−1•h−1), combined with either L-Citrulline (6.25 mg•h-1), L-Arginine (6.25 mg•h−1), or L-Alanine (isonitrogenous control; 12.5 mg•h−1) during the last 6 hrs. The control group received an 18 hrs sterile saline infusion combined with L-Alanine or L-Citrulline during the last 6 hrs. The microcirculation was evaluated at the end of the infusion period using sidestream dark-field imaging of jejunal villi. Plasma and jejunal tissue amino-acid concentrations were measured by HPLC, NO tissue concentrations by electron-spin resonance spectroscopy and NOS protein concentrations using Western blot.
L-Citrulline supplementation during endotoxemia positively influenced the intestinal microvascular perfusion compared to L-Arginine-supplemented and control endotoxemic mice. L-Citrulline supplementation increased plasma and tissue concentrations of arginine and citrulline, and restored intracellular NO production in the intestine. L-Arginine supplementation did not increase the intracellular arginine availability. Jejunal tissues in the L-Citrulline-supplemented group showed, compared to the endotoxemic and L-Arginine-supplemented endotoxemic group, an increase in degree of phosphorylation of eNOS (Ser 1177) and a decrease in iNOS protein level. In conclusion, L-Citrulline supplementation during endotoxemia and not L-Arginine reduced intestinal microcirculatory dysfunction and increased intracellular NO production, likely via increased intracellular citrulline and arginine availability.
The increasing number of reports on the relation between transfusion of stored red blood cells (RBCs) and adverse patient outcome has sparked an intense debate on the benefits and risks of blood transfusions. Meanwhile, the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying this postulated relation remain unclear. The development of hemolysis during storage might contribute to this mechanism by release of free hemoglobin (fHb), a potent nitric oxide (NO) scavenger, which may impair vasodilation and microcirculatory perfusion after transfusion. The objective of this prospective observational pilot study was to establish whether RBC transfusion results in increased circulating fHb levels and plasma NO consumption. In addition, the relation between increased fHb values and circulating haptoglobin, its natural scavenger, was studied.
Thirty patients electively received 1 stored packed RBC unit (n = 8) or 2 stored packed RBC units (n = 22). Blood samples were drawn to analyze plasma levels of fHb, haptoglobin, and NO consumption prior to transfusion, and 15, 30, 60 and 120 minutes and 24 hours after transfusion. Differences were compared using Pearson's chi-square test or Fisher's exact test for dichotomous variables, or an independent-sample t test or Mann-Whitney U test for continuous data. Continuous, multiple-timepoint data were analyzed using repeated one-way analysis of variance or the Kruskall-Wallis test. Correlations were analyzed using Spearman or Pearson correlation.
Storage duration correlated significantly with fHb concentrations and NO consumption within the storage medium (r = 0.51, P < 0.001 and r = 0.62, P = 0.002). fHb also significantly correlated with NO consumption directly (r = 0.61, P = 0.002). Transfusion of 2 RBC units significantly increased circulating fHb and NO consumption in the recipient (P < 0.001 and P < 0.05, respectively), in contrast to transfusion of 1 stored RBC unit. Storage duration of the blood products did not correlate with changes in fHb and NO consumption in the recipient. In contrast, pre-transfusion recipient plasma haptoglobin levels inversely influenced post-transfusion fHb concentrations.
These data suggest that RBC transfusion can significantly increase post-transfusion plasma fHb levels and plasma NO consumption in the recipient. This finding may contribute to the potential pathophysiological mechanism underlying the much-discussed adverse relation between blood transfusions and patient outcome. This observation may be of particular importance for patients with substantial transfusion requirements.
The intermittent Pringle maneuver (IPM) is frequently applied to minimize blood loss during liver transection. Clamping the hepatoduodenal ligament blocks the hepatic inflow, which leads to a non circulating (hepato)splanchnic outflow. Also, IPM blocks the mesenteric venous drainage (as well as the splenic drainage) with raising pressure in the microvascular network of the intestinal structures. It is unknown whether the IPM is harmful to the gut. The aim was to investigate intestinal epithelial cell damage reflected by circulating intestinal fatty acid binding protein levels (I-FABP) in patients undergoing liver resection with IPM.
Patients who underwent liver surgery received total IPM (total-IPM) or selective IPM (sel-IPM). A selective IPM was performed by selectively clamping the right portal pedicle. Patients without IPM served as controls (no-IPM). Arterial blood samples were taken immediately after incision, ischemia and reperfusion of the liver, transection, 8 hours after start of surgery and on the first post-operative day.
24 patients (13 males) were included. 7 patients received cycles of 15 minutes and 5 patients received cycles of 30 minutes of hepatic inflow occlusion. 6 patients received cycles of 15 minutes selective hepatic occlusion and 6 patients underwent surgery without inflow occlusion. Application of total-IPM resulted in a significant increase in I-FABP 8 hours after start of surgery compared to baseline (p<0.005). In the no-IPM group and sel-IPM group no significant increase in I-FABP at any time point compared to baseline was observed.
Total-IPM in patients undergoing liver resection is associated with a substantial increase in arterial I-FABP, pointing to intestinal epithelial injury during liver surgery.
It is known that genetic variants can affect gene expression, but it is not yet completely clear through what mechanisms genetic variation mediate this expression. We therefore compared the cis-effect of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on gene expression between blood samples from 1,240 human subjects and four primary non-blood tissues (liver, subcutaneous, and visceral adipose tissue and skeletal muscle) from 85 subjects. We characterized four different mechanisms for 2,072 probes that show tissue-dependent genetic regulation between blood and non-blood tissues: on average 33.2% only showed cis-regulation in non-blood tissues; 14.5% of the eQTL probes were regulated by different, independent SNPs depending on the tissue of investigation. 47.9% showed a different effect size although they were regulated by the same SNPs. Surprisingly, we observed that 4.4% were regulated by the same SNP but with opposite allelic direction. We show here that SNPs that are located in transcriptional regulatory elements are enriched for tissue-dependent regulation, including SNPs at 3′ and 5′ untranslated regions (P = 1.84×10−5 and 4.7×10−4, respectively) and SNPs that are synonymous-coding (P = 9.9×10−4). SNPs that are associated with complex traits more often exert a tissue-dependent effect on gene expression (P = 2.6×10−10). Our study yields new insights into the genetic basis of tissue-dependent expression and suggests that complex trait associated genetic variants have even more complex regulatory effects than previously anticipated.
Gene expression can be affected by genetic variation, e.g. single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These are called expression-affecting SNPs or eSNPs. Gene expression levels are known to vary across different tissues in the same individual, despite the fact that genetic variation is the same in these tissues. We explored the different mechanisms by which genetic variants can mediate tissue-dependent gene expression. We observed that the genetic variants that associated with complex traits are more likely to affect gene expression in a tissue-dependent manner. Our results suggest that complex traits are even more complex than we had anticipated, and they underline the great importance of using expression data from tissues relevant to the disease being studied in order to further the understanding of the biology underlying the disease association.
Disturbance of the inflammatory response in the gut is important in several clinical diseases ranging from inflammatory bowel disease to postoperative ileus. Several feedback mechanisms exist that control the inflammatory cascade and avoid collateral damage. In the gastrointestinal tract, it is of particular importance to control the immune response to maintain the balance that allows dietary uptake and utilization of nutrients on one hand, while preventing invasion of bacteria and toxins on the other hand. The process of digestion and absorption of nutrients requires a relative hyporesponsiveness of the immune cells in the gut to luminal contents which is not yet fully understood. Recently, the autonomic nervous system has been identified as an important pathway to control local and systemic inflammation and gut barrier integrity. Activation of the pathway is possible via electrical or via pharmacological interventions, but is also achieved in a physiological manner by ingestion of dietary lipids. Administration of dietary lipids has been shown to be very effective in reducing the inflammatory cascade and maintaining intestinal barrier integrity in several experimental studies. This beneficial effect of nutrition on the inflammatory response and intestinal barrier integrity opens new therapeutic opportunities for treatment of certain gastrointestinal disorders. Furthermore, this neural feedback mechanism provides more insight in the relative hyporesponsiveness of the immune cells in the gut. Here, we will discuss the regulatory function of the autonomic nervous system on the inflammatory response and gut barrier function and the potential benefit in a clinical setting.
Inflammation; Nutrition; Acetylcholine; Intestinal barrier; Innate immunity; Autonomic nervous system; Cholecystokinin
For many complex traits, genetic variants have been found associated. However, it is still mostly unclear through which downstream mechanism these variants cause these phenotypes. Knowledge of these intermediate steps is crucial to understand pathogenesis, while also providing leads for potential pharmacological intervention. Here we relied upon natural human genetic variation to identify effects of these variants on trans-gene expression (expression quantitative trait locus mapping, eQTL) in whole peripheral blood from 1,469 unrelated individuals. We looked at 1,167 published trait- or disease-associated SNPs and observed trans-eQTL effects on 113 different genes, of which we replicated 46 in monocytes of 1,490 different individuals and 18 in a smaller dataset that comprised subcutaneous adipose, visceral adipose, liver tissue, and muscle tissue. HLA single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were 10-fold enriched for trans-eQTLs: 48% of the trans-acting SNPs map within the HLA, including ulcerative colitis susceptibility variants that affect plausible candidate genes AOAH and TRBV18 in trans. We identified 18 pairs of unlinked SNPs associated with the same phenotype and affecting expression of the same trans-gene (21 times more than expected, P<10−16). This was particularly pronounced for mean platelet volume (MPV): Two independent SNPs significantly affect the well-known blood coagulation genes GP9 and F13A1 but also C19orf33, SAMD14, VCL, and GNG11. Several of these SNPs have a substantially higher effect on the downstream trans-genes than on the eventual phenotypes, supporting the concept that the effects of these SNPs on expression seems to be much less multifactorial. Therefore, these trans-eQTLs could well represent some of the intermediate genes that connect genetic variants with their eventual complex phenotypic outcomes.
Many genetic variants have been found associated with diseases. However, for many of these genetic variants, it remains unclear how they exert their effect on the eventual phenotype. We investigated genetic variants that are known to be associated with diseases and complex phenotypes and assessed whether these variants were also associated with gene expression levels in a set of 1,469 unrelated whole blood samples. For several diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and ulcerative colitis, we observed that genetic variants affect the expression of genes, not implicated before. For complex traits, such as mean platelet volume and mean corpuscular volume, we observed that independent genetic variants on different chromosomes influence the expression of exactly the same genes. For mean platelet volume, these genes include well-known blood coagulation genes but also genes with still unknown functions. These results indicate that, by systematically correlating genetic variation with gene expression levels, it is possible to identify downstream genes, which provide important avenues for further research.
Splanchnic hypoperfusion is common in various pathophysiological conditions and often considered to lead to gut dysfunction. While it is known that physiological situations such as physical exercise also result in splanchnic hypoperfusion, the consequences of flow redistribution at the expense of abdominal organs remained to be determined. This study focuses on the effects of splanchnic hypoperfusion on the gut, and the relationship between hypoperfusion, intestinal injury and permeability during physical exercise in healthy men.
Methods and Findings
Healthy men cycled for 60 minutes at 70% of maximum workload capacity. Splanchnic hypoperfusion was assessed using gastric tonometry. Blood, sampled every 10 minutes, was analyzed for enterocyte damage parameters (intestinal fatty acid binding protein (I-FABP) and ileal bile acid binding protein (I-BABP)). Changes in intestinal permeability were assessed using sugar probes. Furthermore, liver and renal parameters were assessed. Splanchnic perfusion rapidly decreased during exercise, reflected by increased gapg-apCO2 from −0.85±0.15 to 0.85±0.42 kPa (p<0.001). Hypoperfusion increased plasma I-FABP (615±118 vs. 309±46 pg/ml, p<0.001) and I-BABP (14.30±2.20 vs. 5.06±1.27 ng/ml, p<0.001), and hypoperfusion correlated significantly with this small intestinal damage (rS = 0.59; p<0.001). Last of all, plasma analysis revealed an increase in small intestinal permeability after exercise (p<0.001), which correlated with intestinal injury (rS = 0.50; p<0.001). Liver parameters, but not renal parameters were elevated.
Exercise-induced splanchnic hypoperfusion results in quantifiable small intestinal injury. Importantly, the extent of intestinal injury correlates with transiently increased small intestinal permeability, indicating gut barrier dysfunction in healthy individuals. These physiological observations increase our knowledge of splanchnic hypoperfusion sequelae, and may help to understand and prevent these phenomena in patients.
AIM: To study the effect of circulating cell-free oxyhemoglobin (FHb) on intestinal microcirculation and intestinal epithelial injury in a rat model.
METHODS: To induce elevated intravascular circulating FHb, male Sprague-Dawley rats received water or FHb infusion. Microcirculatory changes in jejunum, ileum and colon were evaluated using fluorescent microspheres. Intestinal injury was quantified as plasmatic release of ileal lipid binding protein (iLBP) and verified by histological analysis of the ileum.
RESULTS: Water and FHb infusions resulted, when compared with saline infusion, in reduced intestinal microcirculation (after 30 min P < 0.05, or better; after 60 min FHb infusion P < 0.05 for jejunum and colon). Circulating FHb levels correlated significantly with release of iLBP (Spearman r = 0.72, P = 0.0011). Epithelial cell injury of the villi was histologically observed after water and FHb infusions.
CONCLUSION: This study shows that circulating FHb leads to a reduction in intestinal microcirculatory blood flow with marked injury to intestinal epithelial cells. These data support the hypothesis that circulating FHb contributes to the development of intestinal injury.
Hemoglobin; Microcirculation; Organ injury; Vasoconstriction
The intestinal mucosa is responsible for the absorption of nutrients from the lumen and for the separation of the potentially toxic luminal content (external environment) from the host (internal environment). Disruption of this delicate balance at the mucosal interface is the basis for numerous (intestinal) diseases. Experimental animal studies have shown that gut wall integrity loss is involved in the development of various inflammatory syndromes, including post-operative or post-traumatic systemic inflammatory response syndrome, sepsis, and multiple organ failure. Assessment of gut wall integrity in clinical practice is still a challenge, as it is difficult to evaluate the condition of the gut non-invasively with currently available diagnostic tools. Moreover, non-invasive, rapid diagnostic means to assess intestinal condition are needed to evaluate the effects of treatment of intestinal disorders. This review provides a survey of non-invasive tests and newly identified markers that can be used to assess gut wall integrity.
Intestinal damage; Markers; Human; Gut wall integrity
Excessive accumulation of body fat, in particular in the visceral fat depot, is a major risk factor to develop a variety of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The mechanisms underlying the increased risk of obese individuals to develop co-morbid diseases are largely unclear.
We aimed to identify genes expressed in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) that are related to blood parameters involved in obesity co-morbidity, such as plasma lipid and glucose levels, and to compare gene expression between the fat depots.
Whole-transcriptome SAT and VAT gene expression levels were determined in 75 individuals with a BMI >35 kg/m2. Modules of co-expressed genes likely to be functionally related were identified and correlated with BMI, plasma levels of glucose, insulin, HbA1c, triglycerides, non-esterified fatty acids, ALAT, ASAT, C-reactive protein, and LDL- and HDL cholesterol.
Of the approximately 70 modules identified in SAT and VAT, three SAT modules were inversely associated with plasma HDL-cholesterol levels, and a fourth module was inversely associated with both plasma glucose and plasma triglyceride levels (p < 5.33 × 10-5). These modules were markedly enriched in immune and metabolic genes. In VAT, one module was associated with both BMI and insulin, and another with plasma glucose (p < 4.64 × 10-5). This module was also enriched in inflammatory genes and showed a marked overlap in gene content with the SAT modules related to HDL. Several genes differentially expressed in SAT and VAT were identified.
In obese subjects, groups of co-expressed genes were identified that correlated with lipid and glucose metabolism parameters; they were enriched with immune genes. A number of genes were identified of which the expression in SAT correlated with plasma HDL cholesterol, while their expression in VAT correlated with plasma glucose. This underlines both the singular importance of these genes for lipid and glucose metabolism and the specific roles of these two fat depots in this respect.
Postoperative ileus is a frequently occurring surgical complication, leading to increased morbidity and hospital stay. Abdominal surgical interventions are known to result in a protracted cessation of bowel movement. Activation of inhibitory neural pathways by nociceptive stimuli leads to an inhibition of propulsive activity, which resolves shortly after closure of the abdomen. The subsequent formation of an inflammatory infiltrate in the muscular layers of the intestine results in a more prolonged phase of ileus. Over the last decade, clinical strategies focusing on reduction of surgical stress and promoting postoperative recovery have improved the course of postoperative ileus. Additionally, recent experimental evidence implicated antiinflammatory interventions, such as vagal stimulation, as potential targets to treat postoperative ileus and reduce the period of intestinal hypomotility. Activation of nicotinic receptors on inflammatory cells by vagal input attenuates inflammation and promotes gastrointestinal motility in experimental models of ileus. A novel physiological intervention to activate this neuroimmune pathway is enteral administration of lipid-rich nutrition. Perioperative administration of lipid-rich nutrition reduced manipulation-induced local inflammation of the intestine and accelerated recovery of bowel movement. The application of safe and easy to use antiinflammatory interventions, together with the current multimodal approach, could reduce postoperative ileus to an absolute minimum and shorten hospital stay.
Postoperative ileus; Inflammation; Vagus; Nutritional antiinflammatory pathway
Over the past decades evidence has been accumulating that intestinal barrier integrity loss plays a key role in the development and perpetuation of a variety of disease states including inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, and is a key player in the onset of sepsis and multiple organ failure in situations of intestinal hypoperfusion, including trauma and major surgery. Insight into gut barrier integrity and function loss is important to improve our knowledge on disease etiology and pathophysiology and contributes to early detection and/or secondary prevention of disease. A variety of tests have been developed to assess intestinal epithelial cell damage, intestinal tight junction status and consequences of intestinal barrier integrity loss, i.e. increased intestinal permeability. This review discusses currently available methods for evaluating loss of human intestinal barrier integrity and function.
Intestinal integrity; Intestinal barrier function; Intestinal permeability; Markers
Recently, we observed that small-intestinal ischemia and reperfusion was found to entail a rapid loss of apoptotic and necrotic cells. This study was conducted to investigate whether the observed shedding of ischemically damaged epithelial cells affects IR induced inflammation in the human small gut.
Methods and Findings
Using a newly developed IR model of the human small intestine, the inflammatory response was studied on cellular, protein and mRNA level. Thirty patients were consecutively included. Part of the jejunum was subjected to 30 minutes of ischemia and variable reperfusion periods (mean reperfusion time 120 (±11) minutes). Ethical approval and informed consent were obtained. Increased plasma intestinal fatty acid binding protein (I-FABP) levels indicated loss in epithelial cell integrity in response to ischemia and reperfusion (p<0.001 vs healthy). HIF-1α gene expression doubled (p = 0.02) and C3 gene expression increased 4-fold (p = 0.01) over the course of IR. Gut barrier failure, assessed as LPS concentration in small bowel venous effluent blood, was not observed (p = 0.18). Additionally, mRNA expression of HO-1, IL-6, IL-8 did not alter. No increased expression of endothelial adhesion molecules, TNFα release, increased numbers of inflammatory cells (p = 0.71) or complement activation, assessed as activated C3 (p = 0.14), were detected in the reperfused tissue.
In the human small intestine, thirty minutes of ischemia followed by up to 4 hours of reperfusion, does not seem to lead to an explicit inflammatory response. This may be explained by a unique mechanism of shedding of damaged enterocytes, reported for the first time by our group.
Chorioamnionitis is the most significant source of prenatal inflammation and preterm delivery. Prematurity and prenatal inflammation are associated with compromised postnatal developmental outcomes, of the intestinal immune defence, gut barrier function and the vascular system. We developed a sheep model to study how the antenatal development of the gut was affected by gestation and/or by endotoxin induced chorioamnionitis.
Chorioamnionitis was induced at different gestational ages (GA). Animals were sacrificed at low GA after 2d or 14d exposure to chorioamnionitis. Long term effects of 30d exposure to chorioamnionitis were studied in near term animals after induction of chorioamnionitis. The cellular distribution of tight junction protein ZO-1 was shown to be underdeveloped at low GA whereas endotoxin induced chorioamnionitis prevented the maturation of tight junctions during later gestation. Endotoxin induced chorioamnionitis did not induce an early (2d) inflammatory response in the gut in preterm animals. However, 14d after endotoxin administration preterm animals had increased numbers of T-lymphocytes, myeloperoxidase-positive cells and gammadelta T-cells which lasted till 30d after induction of chorioamnionitis in then near term animals. At early GA, low intestinal TLR-4 and MD-2 mRNA levels were detected which were further down regulated during endotoxin-induced chorioamnionitis. Predisposition to organ injury by ischemia was assessed by the vascular function of third-generation mesenteric arteries. Endotoxin-exposed animals of low GA had increased contractile response to the thromboxane A2 mimetic U46619 and reduced endothelium-dependent relaxation in responses to acetylcholine. The administration of a nitric oxide (NO) donor completely restored endothelial dysfunction suggesting reduced NO bioavailability which was not due to low expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase.
Our results indicate that the distribution of the tight junctional protein ZO-1, the immune defence and vascular function are immature at low GA and are further compromised by endotoxin-induced chorioamnionitis. This study suggests that both prematurity and inflammation in utero disturb fetal gut development, potentially predisposing to postnatal intestinal pathology.
Loss of intestinal integrity has been implicated as an important contributor to the development of excessive inflammation following severe trauma. Thus far, clinical data concerning the occurrence and significance of intestinal damage after trauma remain scarce. This study investigates whether early intestinal epithelial cell damage occurs in trauma patients and, if present, whether such cell injury is related to shock, injury severity and the subsequent inflammatory response.
Prospective observational cohort study in 96 adult trauma patients. Upon arrival at the emergency room (ER) plasma levels of intestinal fatty acid binding protein (i-FABP), a specific marker for damage of differentiated enterocytes, were measured. Factors that potentially influence the development of intestinal cell damage after trauma were determined, including the presence of shock and the extent of abdominal trauma and general injury severity. Furthermore, early plasma levels of i-FABP were related to inflammatory markers interleukin-6 (IL-6), procalcitonin (PCT) and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Upon arrival at the ER, plasma i-FABP levels were increased compared with healthy volunteers, especially in the presence of shock (P < 0.01). The elevation of i-FABP was related to the extent of abdominal trauma as well as general injury severity (P < 0.05). Circulatory i-FABP concentrations at ER correlated positively with IL-6 and PCT levels at the first day (r2 = 0.19; P < 0.01 and r2 = 0.36; P < 0.001 respectively) and CRP concentrations at the second day after trauma (r2 = 0.25; P < 0.01).
This study reveals early presence of intestinal epithelial cell damage in trauma patients. The extent of intestinal damage is associated with the presence of shock and injury severity. Early intestinal damage precedes and is related to the subsequent developing inflammatory response.
Gut barrier loss has been implicated as a critical event in the occurrence of postoperative complications. We aimed to study the development of gut barrier loss in patients undergoing major non-abdominal surgery.
Twenty consecutive children undergoing spinal fusion surgery were included. This kind of surgery is characterized by long operation time, significant blood loss, prolonged systemic hypotension, without directly leading to compromise of the intestines by intestinal manipulation or use of extracorporeal circulation. Blood was collected preoperatively, every two hours during surgery and 2, 4, 15 and 24 hours postoperatively. Gut mucosal barrier was assessed by plasma markers for enterocyte damage (I-FABP, I-BABP) and urinary presence of tight junction protein claudin-3. Intestinal mucosal perfusion was measured by gastric tonometry (PrCO2, Pr-aCO2-gap). Plasma concentration of I-FABP, I-BABP and urinary expression of claudin-3 increased rapidly and significantly after the onset of surgery in most children. Postoperatively, all markers decreased promptly towards baseline values together with normalisation of MAP. Plasma levels of I-FABP, I-BABP were significantly negatively correlated with MAP at ½ hour before blood sampling (−0.726 (p<0.001), −0.483 (P<0.001), respectively). Furthermore, circulating I-FABP correlated with gastric mucosal PrCO2, Pr-aCO2-gap measured at the same time points (0.553 (p = 0.040), 0.585 (p = 0.028), respectively).
This study shows the development of gut barrier loss in children undergoing major non-abdominal surgery, which is related to preceding hypotension and mesenterial hypoperfusion. These data shed new light on the potential role of peroperative circulatory perturbation and intestinal barrier loss.
Intestinal ischemia-reperfusion (IR) is a phenomenon related to physiological conditions (e.g. exercise, stress) and to pathophysiological events (e.g. acute mesenteric ischemia, aortic surgery). Although intestinal IR has been studied extensively in animals, results remain inconclusive and data on human intestinal IR are scarce. Therefore, an experimental harmless model for human intestinal IR was developed, enabling us to clarify the sequelae of human intestinal IR for the first time.
Methods and Findings
In 30 patients undergoing pancreatico-duodenectomy we took advantage of the fact that in this procedure a variable length of jejunum is removed. Isolated jejunum (5 cm) was subjected to 30 minutes ischemia followed by reperfusion. Intestinal Fatty Acid Binding Protein (I-FABP) arteriovenous concentration differences across the bowel segment were measured before and after ischemia to assess epithelial cell damage. Tissue sections were collected after ischemia and at 25, 60 and 120 minutes reperfusion and stained with H&E, and for I-FABP and the apoptosis marker M30. Bonferroni's test was used to compare I-FABP differences. Mean (SEM) arteriovenous concentration gradients of I-FABP across the jejunum revealed rapidly developing epithelial cell damage. I-FABP release significantly increased from 290 (46) pg/ml before ischemia towards 3,997 (554) pg/ml immediately after ischemia (p<0.001) and declined gradually to 1,143 (237) pg/ml within 1 hour reperfusion (p<0.001). Directly after ischemia the intestinal epithelial lining was microscopically normal, while subepithelial spaces appeared at the villus tip. However, after 25 minutes reperfusion, enterocyte M30 immunostaining was observed at the villus tip accompanied by shedding of mature enterocytes into the lumen and loss of I-FABP staining. Interestingly, within 60 minutes reperfusion the epithelial barrier resealed, while debris of apoptotic, shedded epithelial cells was observed in the lumen. At the same time, M30 immunoreactivity was absent in intact epithelial lining.
This is the first human study to clarify intestinal IR induced cell damage and repair and its direct consequences. It reveals a unique, endogenous clearing mechanism for injured enterocytes: rapid detachment of damaged apoptotic enterocytes into the lumen. This process is followed by repair of the epithelial continuity within an hour, resulting in a normal epithelial lining.
The promising, but modest, clinical results of many human cancer vaccines indicate a need for vaccine adjuvants that can increase both the quantity and the quality of vaccine-induced, tumor-specific T cells. In this study we tested the immunological and antitumor effects of the proinflammatory cytokine, IL-23, in gp100 peptide vaccine therapy of established murine melanoma. Neither systemic nor local IL-23 alone had any impact on tumor growth or tumor-specific T cell numbers. Upon specific vaccination, however, systemic IL-23 greatly increased the relative and absolute numbers of vaccine-induced CD8+ T cells and enhanced their effector function at the tumor site. Although IL-23 specifically increased IFN-γ production by tumor-specific T cells, IFN-γ itself was not a primary mediator of the vaccine adjuvant effect. The IL-23-induced antitumor effect and accompanying reversible weight loss were both partially mediated by TNF-α. In contrast, local expression of IL-23 at the tumor site maintained antitumor activity in the absence of weight loss. Under these conditions, it was also clear that enhanced effector function of vaccine-induced CD8+ T cells, rather than increased T cell number, is a primary mechanism underlying the antitumor effect of IL-23. Collectively, these results suggest that IL-23 is a potent vaccine adjuvant for the induction of therapeutic, tumor-specific CD8+ T cell responses.