Rho-kinase signalling regulates trypsinogen activation and tissue damage in severe acute pancreatitis

D Awla, H Hartman, A Abdulla, S Zhang, M Rahman, S Regnér, H Thorlacius
British Journal of Pharmacology 2011, 162 (3): 648-58

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Severe acute pancreatitis (SAP) is characterized by trypsinogen activation, infiltration of leucocytes and tissue necrosis but the intracellular signalling mechanisms regulating organ injury in the pancreas remain elusive. Rho-kinase is a potent regulator of specific cellular processes effecting several pro-inflammatory activities. Herein, we examined the role of Rho-kinase signalling in acute pancreatitis.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Pancreatitis was induced by infusion of taurocholate into the pancreatic duct in C57BL/6 mice. Animals were treated with a Rho-kinase inhibitor Y-27632 (0.5-5 mg·kg⁻¹) before induction of pancreatitis.

KEY RESULTS: Taurocholate infusion caused a clear-cut increase in blood amylase, pancreatic neutrophil infiltration, acinar cell necrosis and oedema formation in the pancreas. Levels of pancreatic myeloperoxidase (MPO), macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2), trypsinogen activation peptide (TAP) and lung MPO were significantly increased, indicating local and systemic disease. Inhibition of Rho-kinase activity dose-dependently protected against pancreatitis. For example, 5 mg·kg⁻¹ Y-27632 reduced acinar cell necrosis, leucocyte infiltration and pancreatic oedema by 90%, 89% and 58%, respectively, as well as tissue levels of MPO by 75% and MIP-2 by 84%. Moreover, Rho-kinase inhibition decreased lung MPO by 75% and blood amylase by 83%. Pancreatitis-induced TAP levels were reduced by 61% in Y-27632-treated mice. Inhibition of Rho-kinase abolished secretagogue-induced activation of trypsinogen in pancreatic acinar cells in vitro.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Our novel data suggest that Rho-kinase signalling plays an important role in acute pancreatitis by regulating trypsinogen activation and subsequent CXC chemokine formation, neutrophil infiltration and tissue injury. Thus, these results indicate that Rho-kinase may constitute a novel target in the management of SAP.


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