Early tranexamic acid administration: A protective effect on gut barrier function following ischemia/reperfusion injury

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The mucus barrier is a critical component of the gut barrier and may be disrupted by pancreatic enzymes following trauma/hemorrhagic shock (T/HS). Luminal strategies against pancreatic enzyme activation or contact with the intestine are protective of the mucus layer and gut barrier integrity following T/HS. There is increasing evidence the use of tranexamic acid (TA) attenuates inflammatory responses in cardiac surgery and is readily absorbed from the gut. We therefore postulated that systemic administration of TA would attenuate mucus degradation and gut barrier failure following T/HS. This was studied in an in vitro model.


Confluent monolayers of HT29-MTX (mucus-producing clone) and Caco-2 cocultures were exposed to 90 minutes of hypoxia followed by reoxygenation (H/R), luminal trypsin (5 μM), or both treatment groups. In a subset of experiments, TA (40 μM or 150 μM) was added to the basal chamber (systemic side) of intestinal cell cultures immediately following the hypoxic period. Mucus barrier function was indexed by rheologic measurement of both mucus thickness and viscosity (G’, dyne/cm2) and oxidant stress. Intestinal cell barrier integrity was indexed by transepithelial electrical resistance, permeability to fluorescein isothiocyanate–dextran, and apoptosis by flow cytometry.


Exposure to both trypsin and H/R of Caco-2/HT29-MTX cocultures led to the most severe effect on mucus barrier function. Administration of TA immediately following hypoxia abrogated the effects noted on mucus barrier function. The epithelial barrier was also most severely impacted by both trypsin and H/R. Addition of TA after the hypoxic event was shown to be protective.


Intestinal mucus physiochemical properties and intestinal barrier function were most severely impacted by exposure to both trypsin (concentration related) and H/R. The “systemic” administration of TA immediately after the hypoxic period was protective and suggests an additional role for early administration of TA in trauma patients in shock.

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