Background/aims: The role of epidermal growth factor (EGF) in the maintenance of mucosal integrity in the lower gastrointestinal tract is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of EGF in experimental colitis.
Methods: Colitis was induced with 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid/ethanol enemas. Rats were pretreated with intraperitoneal administration of recombinant human EGF (600 micrograms/kg) or vehicle 1 hour before induction of colitis and daily thereafter until killed at 8 hours, 48 hours, and 1 week. A separate group received an identical dosage and administration of EGF or vehicle for 1 week with treatment initiated 24 hours after the induction of colitis. Colonic tissue was evaluated macroscopically, histologically, and for myeloperoxidase activity.
Results: Pretreatment with EGF reduced microscopic erosions at 8 and 48 hours by 74% and 54%, respectively (P < 0.05). At 1 week, microscopic ulcerations and myeloperoxidase activity were reduced by 65% in the EGF-pretreated group (P < 0.05). No significant difference in macroscopic injury, histological damage, or myeloperoxidase activity was noted when EGF treatment was initiated after the induction of colitis.
Conclusions: Systemic EGF administration reduces mucosal damage and inflammation in a trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid/ethanol model of colitis in rats through a mechanism involving mucosal protection.