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Enteric microflora contribute to constitutive ICAM-1 expression on vascular endothelial cells.

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First Department of Surgery, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Japan.


Quantitative estimates of endothelial cell adhesion molecule expression have revealed that some adhesion molecules [e.g., intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)] are abundantly expressed in different vascular beds under normal conditions. The objective of this study was to determine whether the enteric microflora contribute to the constitutive expression of ICAM-1 and other endothelial cell adhesion molecules in the gastrointestinal tract and other regional vascular beds. The dual radiolabeled monoclonal antibody technique was used to measure endothelial expression of ICAM-1, ICAM-2, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and E-selectin in conventional, germ-free mice and germ-free mice receiving the cecal contents of conventional mice to reestablish the enteric microflora (total association). Constitutive ICAM-1 expression was significantly lower in the splanchnic organs (pancreas, stomach, small and large intestine, mesentery, and liver), kidneys, skeletal muscle, and skin of germ-free mice compared with their conventional counterparts. These differences were abolished after total association of germ-free mice with the indigenous gastrointestinal flora. The expression of ICAM-2, VCAM-1, and E-selectin in the various tissues studied did not differ between conventional and germ-free mice. These findings indicate that the indigenous gastrointestinal microflora are responsible for a significant proportion of the basal ICAM-1 expression detected in both intestinal and extraintestinal tissues.

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