A tungsten-supplemented diet delivered by transplacental and breast-feeding routes lowers intestinal xanthine oxidase activity and affords cytoprotection in ischemia-reperfusion injury to the small intestine

J Pediatr Surg. 1991 Aug;26(8):930-5. doi: 10.1016/0022-3468(91)90839-l.


Ischemia-reperfusion injury has been implicated as playing a major role in the development of necrotizing enterocolitis, a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the newborn. A tungsten-supplemented molybdenum-free diet can reduce xanthine oxidase (XO) enzyme activity in the intestine, which in turn reduces the generation of oxygen radicals after an ischemia-reperfusion insult. This study evaluated the ability of this diet to be effective by indirect means, ie, transplacental and breast-feeding routes. XO activity of the intestine was measured in three groups of CD-1 white rats: I, weanlings fed the tungsten diet or standard chow for 1 week; II, 1-day-old rat pups whose mothers were maintained on the tungsten or standard chow for 7 to 10 days prior to term; and III, rat pups at 1 and 3 weeks after birth whose lactating mothers were maintained on the tungsten or standard chow. Some animals from group III also underwent either a 30- or 60-minute episode of occlusion of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) to evaluate the protective effects of the diet. XO activity was significantly reduced in all groups receiving the tungsten diet (P less than .0001). Blinded histopathologic studies of the entire small bowel showed significantly less villar necrosis (P less than .05) and fibrosis (P less than .0001) in the tungsten-treated group than in the controls. In the 60-minute occlusion study all tungsten-group animals survived, whereas 7 of 12 in the control group died of intestinal infarction within 24 hours (P less than .001).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Feeding
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / etiology
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / pathology
  • Female
  • Free Radicals
  • Intestine, Small / blood supply*
  • Intestine, Small / enzymology
  • Placenta
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Reperfusion Injury / complications
  • Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • Tungsten / administration & dosage*
  • Tungsten / pharmacology
  • Xanthine Oxidase / metabolism*


  • Free Radicals
  • Xanthine Oxidase
  • Tungsten