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Surgery. 2013 Jan;153(1):17-24. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2012.04.001. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

Parenteral nutrition suppresses the bactericidal response of the small intestine.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA.



Parenteral nutrition (PN) increases infectious risk in critically ill patients compared with enteral feeding. Previously, we demonstrated that PN feeding suppresses the concentration of the Paneth cell antimicrobial protein secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) in the gut lumen. sPLA2 and other Paneth cell proteins are released in response to bacterial components, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and they modulate the intestinal microbiome. Because the Paneth cell protein sPLA2 was suppressed with PN feeding, we hypothesized PN would diminish the responsiveness of the small bowel to LPS through reduced secretions and as a result exhibit less bactericidal activity.


The distal ileum was harvested from Institute of Cancer Research mice, washed, and randomized for incubation with LPS (0, 1, or 10 μg/mL). Culture supernatant was collected and sPLA2 activity was measured. Bactericidal activity of the ileum segment secretions was assessed against Pseudomonas aeruginosa with and without an sPLA2 inhibitor at 2 concentrations, 100 nmol/L and 1 μmol/L. Institute of Cancer Research mice were randomized to chow or PN for 5 days. Tissue was collected for immunohistochemistry (IHC) and ileal segments were incubated with LPS (0 or 10 μg/mL). sPLA2 activity and bactericidal activity were measured in secretions from ileal segments.


Ileal segments responded to 10 μg/mL LPS with significantly greater sPLA2 activity and bactericidal activity. The bactericidal activity of secretions from LPS stimulated tissue was suppressed 50% and 70%, respectively, with the addition of the sPLA2-inhibitor. Chow displayed greater sPLA2 in the Paneth cell granules and secreted higher levels of sPLA2 than PN before and after LPS. Accordingly, media collected from chow was more bactericidal than PN. IHC confirmed a reduction in Paneth cell granules after PN.


This work demonstrates that ileal segments secrete bactericidal secretions after LPS exposure and the inhibition of the Paneth cell antimicrobial protein sPLA2 significantly diminishes this. PN feeding resulted in suppressed secretion of the sPLA2 and resulted in increased bacterial survival. This demonstrates that PN significantly impairs the innate immune response by suppressing Paneth cell function.

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