Original Communications| Volume 125, ISSUE 2, P186-194, February 1999

Glutamine and transforming growth factor-α stimulate extracellular regulated kinases and enhance recovery of villous surface area in porcine ischemic-injured intestine


      Background: Epidermal growth factor (EGF) signals enterocyte proliferation via extracellular regulated kinases (ERKs). Because glutamine is required for EGF-stimulated proliferation and stimulates ERKs in intestinal cell culture, we hypothesized that glutamine and the EGF-related peptide transforming growth factor–alpha (TGF-α) would synergistically enhance repair associated with stimulation of ERKs. Methods: Thiry-Vella loops were created in juvenile pigs. One half of the loop was subjected to 2 hours of ischemia, and the other half served as control. Loops were infused daily with Ringer's solution containing 140 mmol/L glucose, 140 mmol/L glutamine, 140 mmol/L glucose plus 60 μg/L TGF-α, or 140 mmol/L glutamine plus 60 μg/L TGF-α. Results: After 2 hours of ischemia, complete villous epithelial sloughing was present. By 18 hours, villous epithelium had fully restituted, but villi remained stunted until 144 hours after injury. Glutamine + TGF-α triggered sustained increases in ERK activity compared with glucose-treated tissues (maximal at 18 hours), whereas glutamine alone or glucose + TGF-α caused only transient elevations in ERK activity. By 72 hours, villous surface area had increased to normal values with glutamine plus TGF-α treatment, whereas villi remained stunted with glucose alone, glutamine alone, or glucose plus TGF-α. Conclusions: Glutamine plus TGF-α treatment restored mucosal architecture within 72 hours of severe ischemic injury associated with sustained elevations in ERK activity. (Surgery 1999;125:186-94.)
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