Role of neutrophil elastase in stress-induced gastric mucosal injury in rats

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Activated neutrophils play an important role in tissue injury by releasing various inflammatory mediators capable of damaging endothelial cells. To investigate whether neutrophil elastase (NE) is involved in stress-induced gastric mucosal injury, we examined the effects of 2 NE inhibitors (ONO-5046 and L-658 758) as well as nitrogen mustard-induced leukocytopenia on the formation of gastric mucosal lesions, gastric mucosal blood flow, gastric mucosal microvascular permeability, and gastric neutrophil accumulation in rats subjected to water immersion-restraint stress (WIR). Gastric mucosal injury peaked 8 hours after WIR. Gastric mucosal blood flow, as measured by laser-Doppler flow cytometry, decreased to 45% of its initial level 8 hours after WIR. Gastric mucosal microvascular permeability, evaluated by Evans blue dye leakage to the gastric mucosa, showed an increase, peaking 8 hours after WIR. Gastric accumulation of neutrophils, determined by measuring gastric myeloperoxidase activity and by histologic examination, was also significantly increased 8 hours after WIR. Both of the NE inhibitors markedly prevented the formation of gastric mucosal lesions. They also decreased the reduction in gastric mucosal blood flow seen in animals subjected to WIR while preventing increases in gastric mucosal microvascular permeability. Gastric neutrophil accumulation was significantly reduced in animals given either inhibitor 8 hours after WIR. Leukocytopenia produced effects similar to those produced by the inhibitors. Taken together, these observations strongly suggest that NE promotes stress-induced gastric mucosal injury in rats by reducing gastric mucosal blood flow and increasing neutrophil accumulation.

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