Sepsis from Pseudomonas aeruginosa pneumonia decreases intestinal proliferation and induces gut epithelial cell cycle arrest

Craig M. Coopersmith*, Paul E. Stromberg, Christopher G. Davis, W. Michael Dunne, Daniel M. Amiot, Irene E. Karl, Richard S. Hotchkiss, Timothy G. Buchman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate whether the up-regulation in sepsis-induced gut epithelial apoptosis is balanced by an increase in intestinal proliferation and to assess mechanisms affecting the gut's regenerative response to overwhelming infection. Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled study. Setting: Animal laboratory in a university medical center. Interventions: Mice were subjected to intratracheal injection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and killed between 1.5 and 24 hrs after induction of pneumonia-induced sepsis to assess for gut epithelial proliferation and cell division and for apoptosis. Animals were compared with sham-operation controls, septic transgenic mice that overexpress Bcl-2 throughout their small intestinal epithelium, and septic p53-/- mice. Measurements and Main Results: Proliferation and cell division were assessed by measuring S-phase and M-phase cells in intestinal crypts. The number of S-phase cells showed a progressive decline at all time points measured, with a 5-fold decrease in proliferation between control animals and septic mice 24 hrs after intratracheal injection of pathogenic bacteria (p < .0001). In contrast, cells in M-phase remained constant for the first 12 hrs after the onset of sepsis, hut increased nearly 50% at 24 hrs after instillation of P. aeruginosa (p < .005). Both the decrease in S-phase cells and the increase in M-phase cells were partially suppressible in Bcl-2 overexpressors, hut cellular proliferation and division were similar between septic p53-/- and p53+/+ mice. Crypt apoptosis was increased at all time points, with maximal death occurring between 12 and 24 hrs. Conclusions: Sepsis from P. aeruginosa pneumonia induces a p53-independent decrease in gut epithelial proliferation. Despite an increase in sepsis-induced intestinal apoptosis, there is no compensatory increase in intestinal epithelial proliferation, and there is evidence of a cell cycle block with an accumulation of cells in M-phase. Decreasing gut apoptosis by overexpression of Bcl-2 is associated with a partial reversal of the effect of sepsis on the cell cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1630-1637
Number of pages8
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell cycle
  • Intestine
  • Pneumonia
  • Proliferation
  • Sepsis


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