Oxidative stress is an important regulator in the pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis (AP). Reactive oxygen species induce activation of inflammatory cascades, inflammatory cell recruitment, and tissue damage. NF-κB regulates inflammatory cytokine gene expression, which induces an acute, edematous form of pancreatitis. Protein kinase C δ (PKCδ) activates NF-κB as shown in a mouse model of cerulein-induced AP. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an ω-3 fatty acid, exerts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in various cells and tissues. This study investigated whether DHA inhibits cerulein-induced AP in rats by assessing pancreatic edema, myeloperoxidase activity, levels of lipid peroxide and IL-6, activation of NF-κB and PKCδ, and by histologic observation. AP was induced by intraperitoneal injection (i.p.) of cerulein (50 μg/kg) every hour for 7 h. DHA (13 mg/kg) was administered i.p. for three days before AP induction. Pretreatment with DHA reduced cerulein-induced activation of NF-κB, PKCδ, and IL-6 in pancreatic tissues of rats. DHA suppressed pancreatic edema and decreased the abundance of lipid peroxide, myeloperoxidase activity, and inflammatory cell infiltration into the pancreatic tissues of cerulein-stimulated rats. Therefore, DHA may help prevent the development of pancreatitis by suppressing the activation of NF-κB and PKCδ, expression of IL-6, and oxidative damage to the pancreas.
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