Background: The role of polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes (PMNs) and the PMN-derived protease, which is called matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), for the gut barrier dysfunction in severe acute pancreatitis (SAP) has not yet been clarified. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of PMNs and MMP-9 on gut barrier dysfunction in rat SAP. Methods: SAP was induced by the injection of 5% sodium taurocholate, and anti-rat PMN serum or BB-94 were administered 48 h and 24 h, respectively, before the induction of acute pancreatitis. Twenty-four hours after the induction of acute pancreatitis, the gut barrier dysfunction and the incidence of bacterial translocation (BT) and PMN transmigration were investigated by bacterial, histologic, and biochemical (MPO) analysis. Inhibition of MMP-9 was achieved by depletion of PMNs or inhibition of MMP-activity by a broad-spectrum MMP inhibitor and confirmed by zymography. In addition, reactive oxygen species were evaluated by spin trap assay. Results: The mucosal injury and the infiltration of PMNs into the gut tissue of rats with SAP were significantly increased in comparison with rats treated with anti-rat PMN serum or BB-94. The levels of MMP-9 and reactive oxygen species in the gut of rats with SAP were significantly higher than those of the rats treated with anti-rat PMN serum or BB-94. Pretreatment with anti-rat PMN serum or BB-94 reduced the incidence of BT in SAP. Conclusion: The incidence of BT in SAP was prevented by the depletion of PMNs or less pronounced by the injection of the MMP inhibitor BB-94. PMNs play an important pathophysiologic role in the occurrence of BT, and MMP-9 is involved in both BT and PMN transmigration in rat SAP.
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