The mechanism of cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis may involve the production of free radicals in excess of the capacity of endogenous intracellular scavengers. These radicals destroy the cellular membranes, releasing digestive enzymes and cellular proteins into the interstitium. Thereafter, a cascade of events, including polymorphonuclear infiltration and complement activation, leads to pancreatic destruction. The present study demonstrates that superoxide dismutase and catalase reduce the ultrastructural and biochemical injury associated with ceruleininduced acute pancreatitis in rats. Pretreatment with superoxide dismutase and catalase 30 minutes before injury did not appear to be protective, presumably because the half-life of intravenous superoxide dismutase is only 6 minutes . This and similar studies suggest a potential clinical role for free radical scavengers in acute established pancreatitis.
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