Mild portal endotoxaemia induces subacute hepatic inflammation and pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction in rats

Eur J Clin Invest. 2008 Sep;38(9):640-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2008.01991.x.


Background: Portal endotoxaemia has been speculated to be crucially involved in the pathogenesis of chronic hepatic inflammation, which is highly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. This study tests whether portal endotoxaemia is a pathogenic link between chronic subacute hepatic inflammation and pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction.

Materials and methods: Rats were randomly assigned into two groups: rats with intraportal saline or low-dose lipopolysaccharide (LPS) infusion for 4 weeks. Pathological changes in the liver were evaluated via histological and biochemical examination. Pancreatic insulin secretion was evaluated by in vivo hyperglycaemic clamp study.

Results: White blood cell count was significantly increased after intraportal LPS infusion for 4 weeks. Plasma amylase and chemoluminescence counts indicating superoxide levels were significantly increased after LPS treatments for 2 and 4 weeks. Intraportal low-dose LPS infusion significantly increased tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 contents in liver and pancreas. Circulating C-reactive protein, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and endotoxin levels were not different among groups. The first- and second-phase insulin secretions in hyperglycaemic clamp were significantly decreased in LPS-treated rats. The histopathological scores, de novo production of reactive oxygen substrate and TBARS contents in the liver and pancreas were significantly increased in LPS-infused rats. Leucocyte infiltration was clearly visible in pancreatic islets of LPS-treated rats.

Conclusions: The present study demonstrated that mild portal endotoxaemia caused subacute hepatic inflammation and impaired pancreatic insulin secretion, implicating that portal endotoxaemia is a potential risk factor to link chronic subacute hepatic inflammation and pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endotoxemia / complications*
  • Hepatitis / etiology*
  • Hepatitis / pathology
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Portal System*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Risk Factors
  • Superoxides / metabolism


  • Insulin
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Superoxides