Degradation and inactivation of plasma tumor necrosis factor-alpha by pancreatic proteases in experimental acute pancreatitis

G. Alsfasser, B. Antoniu, S. P. Thayer, A. L. Warshaw, C. Fernández-Del Castillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Release of TNFα is thought to play an important role in mediating systemic effects in acute pancreatitis (AP). We have been unable to find an elevation of plasma TNFα in AP and hypothesize that it is susceptible to catabolism by circulating pancreatic proteases. Methods: (1) AP was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats by cerulein hyperstimulation preceded by intraductal infusion of saline (mild) or glycodeoxycholic acid (severe). Healthy and sham-operated animals served as controls. Severity of pancreatitis was confirmed by histology. Plasma TNFα levels were measured at various time points after induction of AP with competitive ELISA. (2) Recombinant rat TNFα (rrTNFα) was incubated with trypsin, elastase, chymotrypsin and pepsin. Western Blot was performed to visualize TNF degradation. (3) RrTNFα was incubated in a concentration and time-dependant manner with proteases and TNF bioactivity was evaluated with a cytotoxicity assay. Results: (1) Plasma TNFα levels in severe pancreatitis were significantly lower than in sham-operated controls after 0.5 and 6 h. (2) Incubation with proteases showed degradation in the presence of trypsin, elastase and chymotrypsin and no effect of pepsin. (3) There was a concentration dependent inactivation of rrTNFα in the presence of pancreatic proteases and a complete time-dependent inactivation in the presence of trypsin. Conclusion: Plasma TNFα does not rise in experimental AP, and levels are significantly lower in severe pancreatitis compared to sham-operated controls. Our study demonstrates degradation and inactivation of TNFα by pancreatic proteases, suggesting that it is unlikely it plays an important role in the development of distant organ failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Cytokine
  • Pancreatic proteases, bioassay
  • Trypsin digestion
  • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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