Nav: Home

Researchers unravel mechanism behind bowel paralysis after surgery

June 20, 2017

In the days following abdominal surgery, patients' intestinal contents pass more slowly or not at all. New research at KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium, has now shown that this phenomenon -- known as post-operative ileus or bowel paralysis -- is not caused by the cells previously identified as the main players. Quite the opposite, in fact: the cells even help restore bowel function. The findings are very important for further research into post-operative patient treatment.

After undergoing abdominal surgery, patients have to stay in hospital for several days because the procedure causes post-operative ileus or bowel paralysis. As a result, the patients cannot tolerate food or empty their bowels. This leads to personal discomfort and prolongs the hospital stay, which in turn increases the economic cost.

Scientists have long been looking for ways to prevent bowel paralysis or to speed up bowel function recovery. The assumption has always been that monocytes, a specific type of white blood cells, were most to blame for the bowel paralysis. Professor Gianluca Matteoli and Professor Guy Boeckxstaens from the TARGID unit at KU Leuven have now shown that the opposite is true.

"Abdominal surgery always leads to a subtle inflammation of the intestinal muscle. This inflammation mostly consists of monocytes," says Professor Matteoli. "We did research on mice that were genetically modified to make it impossible for monocytes to leave the bloodstream and enter the intestinal muscle. We expected that this would enable us to prevent bowel paralysis. To our surprise, however, the mice still developed bowel paralysis, and their recovery was even slower than expected."

Further research confirmed that monocytes have a positive impact on bowel function recovery. "We noticed that monocytes initially contribute to inflammation. After a while, however, they start removing the damaged tissue -- they clean it up, so to speak. After that, their function drastically changes and they even help to restore proper bowel functioning," Professor Boeckxstaens continues. "If we can speed up this switch from cleaning up to restoring, we may also increase the pace of the patient's recovery."
-end-


KU Leuven

Related Inflammation Articles:

TWEAKing inflammation
Superficially, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis may appear similar but their commonalities are only skin deep.
More than a 'gut feeling' on cause of age-associated inflammation
Bowdish and her colleagues raised mice in germ-free conditions and compared them to their conventionally raised counterparts.
Inflammation: It takes two to tango
Signal molecules called chemokines often work in tandem to recruit specific sets of immune cells to sites of tissue damage.
Inflammation awakens sleepers
The inflammatory response that is supposed to ward off pathogens that cause intestinal disease makes this even worse.
Inflammation in regeneration: A friend or foe?
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology have discovered a novel mechanism linking inflammation and organ regeneration in fish, which can be conserved among vertebrates.
New RNAi treatment targets eye inflammation
Scientists have developed a new RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutic agent that safely blocked ocular inflammation in mice, potentially making it a new treatment for human uveitis and diabetic retinopathy.
Every meal triggers inflammation
When we eat, we do not just take in nutrients -- we also consume a significant quantity of bacteria.
Inflammation halts fat-burning
Scientists at the University of Bonn have shown in mice that excess pounds can simply be melted away by converting unwanted white fat cells into energy-consuming brown slimming cells.
New tool uses UV light to control inflammation
Cornell researchers have developed a chemical tool to control inflammation that is activated by ultraviolet (UV) light.
Myocardial inflammation elevated in RA patients
Two new studies measure the prevalence of myocardial inflammation in RA patients without known cardiovascular disease, assess how it is associated with high disease activity and show how disease-modifying therapy may decrease this type of inflammation, according to new research findings presented this week at the 2016 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in Washington.

Related Inflammation Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#517 Life in Plastic, Not Fantastic
Our modern lives run on plastic. It's in the computers and phones we use. It's in our clothing, it wraps our food. It surrounds us every day, and when we throw it out, it's devastating for the environment. This week we air a live show we recorded at the 2019 Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C., where Bethany Brookshire sat down with three plastics researchers - Christina Simkanin, Chelsea Rochman, and Jennifer Provencher - and a live audience to discuss plastics in our oceans. Where they are, where they are going, and what they carry with them. Related links:...