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Ann Surg. 1998 Oct;228(4):518-27.

Gut-derived mesenteric lymph but not portal blood increases endothelial cell permeability and promotes lung injury after hemorrhagic shock.

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Department of Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, 07103, USA.



To determine whether gut-derived factors leading to organ injury and increased endothelial cell permeability would be present in the mesenteric lymph at higher levels than in the portal blood of rats subjected to hemorrhagic shock. This hypothesis was tested by examining the effect of portal blood plasma and mesenteric lymph on endothelial cell monolayers and the interruption of mesenteric lymph flow on shock-induced lung injury.


The absence of detectable bacteremia or endotoxemia in the portal blood of trauma victims casts doubt on the role of the gut in the generation of multiple organ failure. Nevertheless, previous experimental work has clearly documented the connection between shock and gut injury as well as the concept of gut-induced sepsis and distant organ failure. One explanation for this apparent paradox would be that gut-derived inflammatory factors are reaching the lung and systemic circulation via the gut lymphatics rather than the portal circulation.


Human umbilical vein endothelial cell monolayers, grown in two-compartment systems, were exposed to media, sham-shock, or postshock portal blood plasma or lymph, and permeability to rhodamine (10K) was measured. Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to 90 minutes of sham or actual shock and shock plus lymphatic division (before and after shock). Lung permeability, pulmonary myeloperoxidase levels, alveolar apoptosis, and bronchoalveolar fluid protein content were used to quantitate lung injury.


Postshock lymph increased endothelial cell monolayer permeability but not postshock plasma, sham-shock lymph/plasma, or medium. Lymphatic division before hemorrhagic shock prevented shock-induced increases in lung permeability to Evans blue dye and alveolar apoptosis and reduced pulmonary MPO levels. In contrast, division of the mesenteric lymphatics at the end of the shock period but before reperfusion ameliorated but failed to prevent increased lung permeability, alveolar apoptosis, and MPO accumulation.


Gut barrier failure after hemorrhagic shock may be involved in the pathogenesis of shock-induced distant organ injury via gut-derived factors carried in the mesenteric lymph rather than the portal circulation.

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