Zymosan is frequently used as an activator of granulocytes to study inflammatory responses. We used zymosan as a model to understand the mechanisms involved in intestinal inflammatory diseases, and our special interest was focused on the smooth muscle function. Moreover, we investigated the role of oxidative stress in intestinal pathology after inflammatory processes. Intraperitoneal injection of zymosan induces a peritoneal inflammation, characterised by exudate in the peritoneum and peritoneal fibrosis. Three days after injection of zymosan (25-40 mg/100 g) we measured a decreased beta adrenergic smooth muscle response, while the muscarinic receptor-mediated contraction was not significantly affected. Efforts were made to correlate these observations with the development of oxidative stress; however, the intestinal glutathione balance remained undisturbed and no increase in lipid peroxidation products in the intestine was observed. Our conclusion is the peritoneal inflammation will lead to a release of various mediators, which may destroy receptor systems, among which are beta adrenoceptors. There was no evidence of an important role for reactive oxygen metabolites in this effect.
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