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Inhibition of bacterial translocation by chronic ethanol consumption in the rat

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Chronic ethanol ingestion has been associated with small intestine morphological changes, disrupted host mucosal defenses and bacterial overgrowth. Since bacterial translocation (BT) may result from such alterations, we have investigated the potential effect of chronic ethanol consumption on BT. For this purpose, male Wistar rats were fed a liquid diet containing 5% v/v ethanol for 4 weeks (EG, n=16), and a pair-fed group received equal daily amounts of calories in a similar diet without ethanol (PFG, n=16). On experimental day 29, distal ileum ligature and small intestine inoculation of a tetracycline-resistant E. coli strain (Tc® E. coli R6) followed by duodenal ligature was performed. After 1 or 5 h post inoculation, mesenteric lymph nodes, liver, spleen and kidney were excised. Unexpectedly, rats of the EG presented markedly less BT to the mesenteric lymph nodes (p<0.001) and to the other organs examined compared to rats of the PFG. This BT inhibition was observed at 1 and 5 h after bacterial inoculation, and may be attributed exclusively to chronic ethanol ingestion. Since alcoholism is well known to decrease host immunity, these results suggest that other factors, independent of the immune function, may be involved in the BT inhibition observed in this study.

Keywords: Chronic ethanol consumption; inhibition of bacterial translocation; rats; small intestine

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Division of Nutrition and Metabolism, University Hospital Clementino Fraga Filho, and Institute of Microbiology, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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