The aim of the present study was to investigate whether hyperlipidemia can cause acute pancreatitis or alter its severity. Male Wistar rats were fed a 3% cholesterol-enriched diet or a normal diet for 16 weeks. Edematous and necrotizing pancreatitis was induced with 3 × 75 μg/kg body weight of cholecystokinin s.c. and 2 × 2 g/kg body weight of L-arginine i.p., respectively, in separate groups of normal and hyperlipidemic rats. The severity of the pancreatitis was assessed. We studied the influence of hyperlipidemia on the formation of oxygen-derived free radicals, endogenous scavengers, nitric oxide synthases (NOS), peroxynitrite (ONOO-), heat shock protein 72 (HSP72) and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation in the pancreas during acute edematous and necrotizing pancreatitis. Hyperlipidemia did not worsen edematous, but aggravated necrotizing pancreatitis. The cholesterol-enriched diet significantly reduced the catalase and Mn-superoxide dismutase (SOD) and constitutive NOS (cNOS) activities and increased the inducible NOS (iNOS) in the pancreas relative to those in the rats on the normal diet. The pancreatic nitrotyrosine level, as a marker of ONOO-, and the NF-κB DNA-binding activity in the pancreas, were significantly elevated in the cholesterol-fed rats. The pancreatic HSP72 expression during necrotizing pancreatitis was not influenced by the hyperlipidemia. The pancreatic Mn-SOD, Cu, Zn-SOD, glutathione peroxidase, total glutathione and cNOS activities were significantly reduced, while the catalase, iNOS and NF-κB DNA-binding activities were significantly increased in the animals with necrotizing pancreatitis on the cholesterol diet as compared with those with pancreatitis and receiving the normal diet. Hyperlipidemia induced with this cholesterol-enriched diet leads to decreases in endogenous scavenger and cNOS activities, results in iNOS and NF-κB activation and stimulates ONOO- generation in the pancreas, which may be responsible for the aggravation of acute necrotizing pancreatitis.
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