Intestinal ischemia-reperfusion (IR) is a phenomenon related to physiological conditions (e.g. exercise, stress) and to pathophysiological events (e.g. acute mesenteric ischemia, aortic surgery). Although intestinal IR has been studied extensively in animals, results remain inconclusive and data on human intestinal IR are scarce. Therefore, an experimental harmless model for human intestinal IR was developed, enabling us to clarify the sequelae of human intestinal IR for the first time.
Methods and Findings: In 30 patients undergoing pancreatico-duodenectomy we took advantage of the fact that in this procedure a variable length of jejunum is removed. Isolated jejunum (5 cm) was subjected to 30 minutes ischemia followed by reperfusion. Intestinal Fatty Acid Binding Protein (I-FABP) arteriovenous concentration differences across the bowel segment were measured before and after ischemia to assess epithelial cell damage. Tissue sections were collected after ischemia and at 25, 60 and 120 minutes reperfusion and stained with H&E, and for I-FABP and the apoptosis marker M30. Bonferroni's test was used to compare I-FABP differences. Mean (SEM) arteriovenous concentration gradients of I-FABP across the jejunum revealed rapidly developing epithelial cell damage. I-FABP release significantly increased from 290 (46) pg/ml before ischemia towards 3,997 (554) pg/ml immediately after ischemia (p
Conclusions: This is the first human study to clarify intestinal IR induced cell damage and repair and its direct consequences. It reveals a unique, endogenous clearing mechanism for injured enterocytes: rapid detachment of damaged apoptotic enterocytes into the lumen. This process is followed by repair of the epithelial continuity within an hour, resulting in a normal epithelial lining.