Role of neutrophil-derived oxidants in the pathogenesis of intestinal inflammation

Klin Wochenschr. 1991 Dec 15;69(21-23):988-94. doi: 10.1007/BF01645144.


There is a growing body of experimental data to suggest that the chronically inflamed intestine and/or colon may be subjected to considerable oxidative stress. The most probable sources of these oxidants are the phagocytic leukocytes since these cells are known to be present in large numbers in the inflamed mucosa and are known to produce significant amounts of reactive oxygen species in response to certain inflammatory stimuli. Because the colonic mucosa contains relatively small amounts of antioxidant enzymes (e.g. SOD, catalase, GSH peroxidase) it is possible that the gut mucosa may be overwhelmed during times of active inflammation which could result in intestinal injury. If reactive oxygen species play an important role in mediating mucosal injury in IBD then it should be possible to attenuate this injury by the use of antioxidants. One such drug is the sulfasalazine metabolite 5-ASA. It may not be coincidence that this potent antiinflammatory metabolite is a potent antioxidant that possesses multiple mechanisms of action including nitrogen, carbon and oxygen-centered free radical scavenging properties as well as the ability to decompose HOCl and scavenge hemoprotein-associated oxidants. In addition 5-ASA has the additional property of being able to chelate iron and render it poorly redox active. The reason that 5-ASA is so effective in vivo may be due to this multitude of antioxidant properties. This would also suggest that other, more potent antioxidants may prove beneficial in the treatment of IBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminosalicylic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology*
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy
  • Crohn Disease / immunology*
  • Granulocytes / drug effects
  • Granulocytes / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / drug effects
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Oxygen / physiology*
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Superoxides / metabolism


  • Aminosalicylic Acids
  • Superoxides
  • Peroxidase
  • Oxygen