Author(s): Feng J, ElAssal ON, Besner GE
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Abstract PURPOSE: We have previously demonstrated that enterally administered heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) decreases the incidence and severity of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in a neonatal rat model. Because apoptosis contributes to gut barrier failure in this model, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of HB-EGF on apoptosis during the development of NEC. METHODS: NEC was induced in neonatal rats by exposure to hypoxia, hypothermia, hypertonic formula feeding (HHHTF) plus enteral administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Fifty-one neonatal rats were randomly divided into the following groups: (1) breast-fed (BF), (2) HHHTF + LPS, and (3) HHHTF + LPS with HB-EGF (600 microg/kg) added to the formula. NEC was evaluated using a standard histological scoring system. Apoptotic cells in intestinal tissues were detected by terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) and by active caspase 3 immunohistochemical staining. RESULTS: The incidence of NEC in the HHHTF + LPS group was higher than that in the BF group (65\% vs 0\%, P < .05). With administration of HB-EGF, the incidence of NEC significantly decreased to 23.8\% (P < .05). The median TUNEL and active caspase 3 scores in the HHHTF + LPS group were higher than those in the BF group (1.9 vs 0.9 and 1.75 vs 0.6, respectively, P < .05). The median TUNEL and active caspase 3 scores were significantly decreased in the HHHTF + LPS + HB-EGF group compared with the HHHTF + LPS group (1.24 vs 1.9 and 1.0 vs 1.75, respectively, P < .05). CONCLUSION: HB-EGF reduces the incidence of NEC in a neonatal rat model in part by decreasing apoptosis. These results support the use of HB-EGF-based clinical regimens for the treatment of NEC.
This article was published in J Pediatr Surg
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology