Objective: To examine the role of the intestinal mucosa in bacterial translocation, in vitro bacterial passage across ileal mucosal segments mounted in Ussing chambers were studied in control and endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide)-treated rats.
Design: Experimental study.
Materials and methods: Three groups of rats were studied. The experimental group received an intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide, while controls received an equivalent volume of saline solution; a third group received no treatment. Twenty-four hours later, all groups underwent laparotomy and organ culture to assess bacterial translocation. At the same time, a segment of mucosa from the terminal ileum of each animal was mounted in a Ussing chamber, and the transmucosal passage of labeled Escherichia coli from the luminal to serosal surface was assessed by results of serial cultures.
Results: In vivo bacterial translocation occurred in 100% of the lipopolysaccharide-treated animals, significantly higher than the incidence seen in controls (25%; P < .05). In vitro passage of labeled E coli across ileal mucosa in the Ussing chamber occurred in 78% of lipopolysaccharide-treated animals, while in controls transmucosal passage was seen in only 14% (P < .05). Histologic examination of mucosa from both groups using light and transmission electron microscopy demonstrated no structural differences between groups.
Conclusions: Increased permeability to bacteria at the mucosal level contributes to the bacterial translocation seen in endotoxemia.