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Gut-associated lymphoid T cell suppression enhances bacterial translocation in alcohol and burn injury.

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Alcohol Research Program, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Medical Center, Maywood, IL 60153, USA.


The mechanism of alcohol-mediated increased infection in burn patients remains unknown. With the use of a rat model of acute alcohol and burn injury, the present study ascertained whether acute alcohol exposure before thermal injury enhances gut bacterial translocation. On day 2 postinjury, we found a severalfold increase in gut bacterial translocation in rats receiving both alcohol and burn injury compared with the animals receiving either injury alone. Whereas there were no demonstrable changes in intestinal morphology in any group of animals, a significant increase in intestinal permeability was observed in ethanol- and burn-injured rats compared with the rats receiving either injury alone. We further examined the role of intestinal immune defense by determining the gut-associated lymphoid (Peyer's patches and mesenteric lymph nodes) T cell effector responses 2 days after alcohol and burn injury. Although there was a decrease in the proliferation and interferon-gamma by gut lymphoid T cells after burn injury alone; the suppression was maximum in the group of rats receiving both alcohol and burn injuries. Furthermore, the depletion of CD3(+) cells in healthy rats resulted in bacterial accumulation in mesenteric lymph nodes; such CD3(+) cell depletion in alcohol- and burn-injured rats furthered the spread of bacteria to spleen and circulation. In conclusion, our data suggest that the increased intestinal permeability and a suppression of intestinal immune defense in rats receiving alcohol and burn injury may cause an increase in bacterial translocation and their spread to extraintestinal sites.

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