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Crit Care Med. 1993 Sep;21(9):1376-86.

Reperfusion injury after intestinal ischemia.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, University of Ulm, FRG.



Review the histologic and pathophysiologic alterations seen after intestinal ischemia and reperfusion.


Current literature review.


The most pertinent, current, and representative articles describing results from both animal and human investigations are utilized and discussed.


Postischemic intestinal tissue damage appears to be due to the formation of oxygen radicals and the activation of phospholipase A2. The initial source of oxygen radicals seems to be the hypoxanthine-xanthine oxidase system. Oxygen radicals react directly with poly-unsaturated fatty acids, leading to lipid peroxidation within the cell membranes. Indirectly, the radicals trigger the accumulation of neutrophils within the affected tissue initiating inflammatory processes that lead to severe mucosal lesions. Similarly, phospholipase A2 also initiates postischemic mucosal lesions. Phospholipase A2 is a hydrolytic enzyme capable of increasing formation of cytotoxic lysophospholipids within the tissue. Enhanced activity of phospholipase A2 also stimulates the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Various substances (superoxide dismutase, catalase, dimethyl sulfoxide, allopurinol, and deferoxamine, etc.) are able to detoxify oxygen radicals or inhibit the mechanisms leading to their enhanced generation, thus attenuating the postischemic lesions of the mucosa.


Oxygen radicals and the activation of phospholipase A2 during reperfusion seem to be instrumental for the development of hemorrhagic mucosal lesions after intestinal ischemia. Radical scavengers and phospholipase A2 inhibitors may prevent reperfusion damage of the intestine, even when the treatment starts during ischemia but before reperfusion.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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