Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is thought to be an important mediator of the septic response; intravenous administration of this cytokine provokes a wide range of metabolic and hemodynamic effects which closely resemble those known to follow endotoxin administration. These effects include damage to gut mucosa. Since the gut constitutes an internal reservoir of endotoxin and bacteria it is possible that some of TNF's effects might be secondary to an increased absorption of these agents. To test this hypothesis TNF was given both to intact dogs and also to animals in which the gut had been removed, from duodenum to anus (“enterectomy”). The data indicates that the effects of TNF upon systemic pressure, white count, and cortisol and glucagon levels were not affected by prior removal of the gut. For most other parameters the findings were less clear but in general the changes in enterectomized dogs were qualitatively similar to those described in the intact animal. We conclude that the effects observed following TNF infusion in the dog are not dependent on the intestinal tract as a secondary source of bacteria or mediators.
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