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Keywords:

  • Alcohol;
  • Bacterial;
  • Translocation;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Portal Vein Endotoxin

Bacterial translocation has been proposed to be important in the pathophysiology of sepsis, as well as to be a consequence of sepsis. To study the effect of alcohol on bacterial translocation from the gut, normal Sprague-Dawley rats were administered alcohol by gavage by two regimens: Acute (3.7 g/kg, one dose) or Subacute (1 of 2 doses, 2.4 or 3.7 g/kg/day once daily for 14 days). Mesenteric lymph node cultures were performed, and portal venous blood was assayed for endotoxin. Ileal and cecal permeability studies were performed in the Acute and Subacute groups using fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled dextrans of either 4,000 or 70,000 kDa size. As an index of the effect of systemic endotoxin, tissues from mesenteric lymph nodes, liver, and intestinal Peyer's patches were assayed for the presence of mRNA for tumor necrosis factor. Additionally, because extrapulmonary sepsis has been shown to suppress pulmonary antibacterial defenses, animals in the Subacute group were challenged by aerosol inoculation with Pseudomonas aenrginosa to determine bacterial clearance and alveolar cellular responses. The results show that neither of the alcohol regimens resulted in bacterial growth from mesenteric lymph nodes or portal blood. Animals in the Subacute group had more endotoxin present in portal blood than did the Control group (92.9 pg/ml vs. 40.2 pg/ml; p < 0.02). None of the animals had demonstrable mRNA for tumor necrosis factor in any of the tissues assayed. There were no demonstrable increases in ileal or cecal permeability for either the small or large molecular weight dextran in either alcohol group. Furthermore, there was no delay in the clearance of P. aeruginosa from the lung in the Subacute group, but these animals recruited fewer neutrophils into the airspaces in response to this challenge than did the Control animals. Thus, alcohol intoxication does not result in bacterial translocation from the gut in this model. Despite higher levels of portal venous endotoxin in the animals in the Subacute alcohol group, no adverse systemic consequences of this phenomenon could be demonstrated.