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Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2013 Nov 1;238(11):1305-17. doi: 10.1177/1535370213493718. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Emu oil expedites small intestinal repair following 5-fluorouracil-induced mucositis in rats.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide 5006, Australia.


Mucositis resulting from cancer chemotherapy is characterized by intestinal inflammation and ulceration. Previously, emu oil (EO) improved intestinal architecture (Br J Nutr, 2010) in a rat model of chemotherapy-induced mucositis. We investigated EO for its further potential to promote intestinal repair in this mucositis model. Female Dark Agouti rats (n = 8/group) were gavaged with water, olive oil (OO) or EO once daily (1 mL), injected with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or saline on day 5 and euthanized on day 8, 9, 10 or 11. Intestinal villus height (VH) and crypt depth (CD), neutral mucin-secreting goblet cell (GC) count, myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity and selected cytokines were quantified; P < 0.05 was considered significant. In 5-FU-injected rats, only EO administration significantly increased VH in the ileum (day 8), jejunum and jejunum-ileum junction (days 8 and 9) compared to 5-FU controls (P < 0.05). GC count was significantly reduced by 5-FU (jejunum: days 8 and 9; ileum: day 8; P < 0.05) and EO increased ileal GC on days 10 and 11 compared to 5-FU controls. MPO activity was significantly increased in jejunum (days 8 and 9) and ileum (day 8) following 5-FU injection, compared to normal controls (P < 0.05). Both EO and OO significantly reduced jejunal MPO on days 8 and 9; however, only EO decreased ileal MPO on day 8. Cytokine levels were not significantly affected by either oil or 5-FU administration at the day 8 time point. Promotion of repair from injury could represent a new mechanism of action for EO, suggesting potential as an adjunct to conventional treatment approaches for cancer management.


Chemotherapy; emu oil; intestinal mucositis; rat; repair

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