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Pediatr Res. 2003 Oct;54(4):462-5. Epub 2003 Jul 16.

Serum cytosolic beta-glucosidase activity in a rat model of necrotizing enterocolitis.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 525 New Hillman Building, 619 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35233, USA.


The diagnosis of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is made from a combination of clinical and radiographic findings. There are no useful screening biochemical markers of intestinal injury. The serum concentration of cytosolic beta-glucosidase (CBG), an enzyme found primarily in enterocytes, is markedly elevated in animal models of ischemia and bowel obstruction. We hypothesized that in a rat model of NEC, serum CBG activity would significantly increase before microscopic evidence of severe intestinal injury. Cohorts of 2-wk-old Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 10/cohort) were anesthetized and underwent laparotomy with occlusion of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA). Platelet-activating factor (200 microg/animal) was injected in the proximal duodenum. Serum and intestinal samples were obtained at time 0 (control) and 30, 60, and 90 min of ischemia (I) and after 90 min of I followed by 60 min of reperfusion (I/R). Histopathologic injury was categorized as either no or minimal injury or mural necrosis by two masked investigators and CBG activity was measured by ELISA. Data were analyzed with Fisher's exact test and ANOVA. Only the I/R group had significantly greater mural necrosis compared with the control group (90% versus 0%, respectively, p < 0.001). In contrast, CBG activity was significantly elevated after only 90 min of I and after I/R (15.1 +/- 5.6 and 16.4 +/- 4.3 units/mL, respectively, p < 0.05). We conclude that serum CBG is elevated before transmural intestinal injury in this model and may have utility as an early marker of ischemia in patients at risk for NEC.

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