Background and Aim Hypoxia and ischemia appear to play an important role in the pathogenesis of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) which is related to oxygen-derived free radical formation. This study was designed to evaluate the role of oxidative stress and potentially beneficial effects of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in a neonatal rat model of NEC.
Methods Thirty Wistar albino rat pups were randomly divided into 3 groups: group 1, control; group 2, NEC and saline; group 3, NEC and NAC treatment. NEC was induced by hyperosmolar enteral formula feeding and exposure to hypoxia after cold stress at 4oC and oxygen. The pups were killed on the fourth day and their intestinal tissues were harvested for biochemical and histopathologic analysis.
Results Mucosal injury scores and intestinal malondialdehyde levels in group 2 were found to be significantly higher than other groups (p=< 0.05). Intestinal superoxide dismutase activities in group 3 were significantly higher than group 2 (p=0.018). Intestinal tissue TNF-α levels were significantly reduced with NAC treatment in group 3 compared to group 2 (p<0.003).
Conclusions It is more likely that oxidative stress and inflammmatory mediators contributed to the pathogenesis of NEC and that NAC had a protective effect on intestinal injury through its antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties.