BACKGROUND: The intestine is a target of septic insult. The aims of this study were to characterize sepsis-induced alterations in intestinal ion transport and to determine the role endotoxin plays in mediating these changes. METHODS: Rats underwent cecal manipulation alone (control), cecal ligation and puncture (CLP), or CLP plus intraperitoneal injection of 0.2 mg of a recently synthesized endotoxin inhibitor. At 24 hours, distal ileum was harvested, and transport parameters were determined. RESULTS: Cecal ligation and puncture produced a significant increase in short-circuit current (I(sc)) that was attributable to the induction of chloride secretion. There were no alterations in transepithelial resistance or fluxes of mannitol and sodium. The sepsis-induced increase in I(sc) was prevented by administration of the endotoxin inhibitor. CONCLUSIONS: In this model of sepsis, the primary alteration in ileal ion transport is an induction of electrogenic chloride secretion. Endotoxin inhibition may represent a strategy for prophylaxis against the intestinal effects of sepsis.
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