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 serum 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 serum 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.
- Pharmacology and Toxicology