Background & aims: Prior thermal stress induces heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) expression in the pancreas and protects against secretagogue-induced pancreatitis, but it is not clear that this thermal stress-induced protection is actually mediated by HSP70 since thermal stress may have other, non-HSP related, effects.
Methods: In the present study, we have administered antisense (AS) oligonucleotides, which prevent pancreatic expression of HSP70 to rats, in vivo, to evaluate this issue. In a separate series of experiments, designed to examine the role of pancreatitis-induced HSP70 expression in modulating the severity of pancreatitis, rats not subjected to prior thermal stress were given AS-HSP70 before cerulein administration, and trypsinogen activation as well as the severity of pancreatitis were evaluated.
Results: Hyperthermia induced HSP70 expression, prevented intrapancreatic trypsinogen activation, and protected against cerulein-induced pancreatitis. Administration of AS-HSP70 but not sense-HSP70 reduced the thermal stress-induced HSP70 expression, restored the ability of supramaximal cerulein stimulation to cause intrapancreatic trypsinogen activation, and abolished the protective effect of prior thermal stress against pancreatitis. In non-thermally stressed animals, pretreatment with AS-HSP70 before the induction of pancreatitis exacerbated all the parameters associated with pancreatitis.
Conclusions: These findings lead us to conclude that HSP70 induction, rather than some other thermal stress-related phenomenon, mediates the thermal stress-induced protection against pancreatitis and that it protects against pancreatitis by preventing intrapancreatic activation of trypsinogen. The worsening of pancreatitis, which occurs when non-thermally stressed animals are given AS-HSP70 before cerulein, suggests that cerulein-induced HSP70 expression in nontreated animals acts to limit the severity of pancreatitis.