Increased concentrations of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) damage normal tissue and produce a shock-like syndrome-changes that can be prevented with antibody-specific antisera. These findings suggest that TNF-stimulated immunity should protect normal tissue and promote wound healing. To test this hypothesis, 30 Fischer 344 rats (150-200 g) were serially immunized against TNF (20 μg/kg). Convalescent sera assayed (micro-ELISA) for circulating antibodies revealed titers (2.54 ± 0.08 au) significantly higher (P < 0.00001) in immunized animals than in nonimmunized controls (0.11 ± 0.06 au). Following this, 10 immunized (Group I), 10 nonimmunized (Group II), and 10 control rats underwent partial cecectomy with primary anastomosis. Animals from Groups I and II received TNF (25 μg/kg) while controls received saline intravenously on Postoperative Days 1, 3, and 5. Animals were then sacrificed to determine: (1) hydroxyproline content of the anastomosis, (2) mitochondrial respiratory control ratio, and (3) pyruvate dehydrogenase activity of the muscle. We found that (1) exposure to increased concentrations of TNF (Group II) depresses (P < 0.01) biologic markers of wound healing and (2) acquired immunity to TNF (Group I) eliminates this response. In conclusion, acquired immunity to TNF protects the healing intestinal anastomosis from the effects of exposure to increased levels of TNF.
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