Adhesion molecules and cytokines are known to be involved in the formation of acute gastric mucosal injury. However, it is not clear whether the gastric mucosal cells express these molecules and modulate the inflammation. To clarify whether gastric mucosal cells express intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1-alpha (IL-1-alpha), and cytokine-induced neutrophil chemoattractant-2-beta (CINC-2-beta)) in the formation of gastric mucosal injury, we have used rat indomethacin-induced gastric mucosal lesions as an in vivo model. The gene expression of all cytokines and ICAM-1 increases at the early stages of indomethacin-induced gastritis (TNF-alpha and IL-1-alpha gene expression began to increase earlier than that of ICAM-1 and CINC-2-beta) and can mainly be detected in the gastric epithelial layer. To further identify the source of those molecules, the epithelial cells were separated into seven fractions according to their sizes by a counterflow elution. ICAM-1 and CINC-2-beta gene expressions are particularly enhanced in the middle-sized cell fractions that are rich in gastric mucous-producing cells. The effect of TNF-alpha or IL-1-alpha on the gene expression of ICAM-1 and cytokines was examined by using RGM-1 cells as a model for gastric mucosal cells. RGM-1 cells show an augmented ICAM-1 and proinflammatory cytokine expression in response to TNF-alpha or IL-1-alpha stimulation. Moreover, immunohistochemical staining also reveals an increase in ICAM-1 and CINC protein production in RGM-1 cells in response to TNF-alpha stimulation. We conclude that gastric mucosal cells express various cytokines and an adhesion molecule during the formation of acute gastric mucosal injury and that they may modulate the inflammation.