Emu oil expedites small intestinal repair following 5-fluorouracil-induced mucositis in rats

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2013 Nov 1;238(11):1305-17. doi: 10.1177/1535370213493718. Epub 2013 Sep 18.


Mucositis resulting from cancer chemotherapy is characterized by intestinal inflammation and ulceration. Previously, emu oil (EO) improved intestinal architecture (Br J Nutr, 2010) in a rat model of chemotherapy-induced mucositis. We investigated EO for its further potential to promote intestinal repair in this mucositis model. Female Dark Agouti rats (n = 8/group) were gavaged with water, olive oil (OO) or EO once daily (1 mL), injected with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or saline on day 5 and euthanized on day 8, 9, 10 or 11. Intestinal villus height (VH) and crypt depth (CD), neutral mucin-secreting goblet cell (GC) count, myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity and selected cytokines were quantified; P < 0.05 was considered significant. In 5-FU-injected rats, only EO administration significantly increased VH in the ileum (day 8), jejunum and jejunum-ileum junction (days 8 and 9) compared to 5-FU controls (P < 0.05). GC count was significantly reduced by 5-FU (jejunum: days 8 and 9; ileum: day 8; P < 0.05) and EO increased ileal GC on days 10 and 11 compared to 5-FU controls. MPO activity was significantly increased in jejunum (days 8 and 9) and ileum (day 8) following 5-FU injection, compared to normal controls (P < 0.05). Both EO and OO significantly reduced jejunal MPO on days 8 and 9; however, only EO decreased ileal MPO on day 8. Cytokine levels were not significantly affected by either oil or 5-FU administration at the day 8 time point. Promotion of repair from injury could represent a new mechanism of action for EO, suggesting potential as an adjunct to conventional treatment approaches for cancer management.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; emu oil; intestinal mucositis; rat; repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects*
  • Intestine, Small / pathology
  • Jejunum / drug effects
  • Jejunum / pathology
  • Mucositis / chemically induced*
  • Mucositis / metabolism
  • Mucositis / pathology
  • Oils / pharmacology
  • Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Time Factors
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Cytokines
  • Oils
  • emu Oil
  • Fluorouracil