Background: Acute mesenteric ischemia (AMI) is challenging to diagnose in the early phase. We tested the hypothesis that blood levels of cell-free DNA would increase early after AMI. In addition, proteome analysis was conducted as an exploratory analysis to identify other potential diagnostic biomarkers. Methods: Mesenteric ischemia, abdominal sepsis, and sham model were compared in Sprague-Dawley rats. The abdominal sepsis model was induced by cecum puncture and mesenteric ischemia model by ligation of the superior mesenteric artery. Blood levels of cell-free DNA were measured 2 h and 6 h after wound closure. Shotgun proteome analysis was performed using plasma samples obtained at the 2 h timepoint; quantitative analysis was conducted for proteins detected exclusively in the AMI models. Results: Blood cell-free DNA levels at 2 h after wound closure were significantly higher in the AMI model than in the sham and the abdominal sepsis models (P < 0.05). Cell-free DNA was positively correlated with the pathologic ischemia severity score (correlation coefficient 0.793-0.834, P < 0.001). Derivative proteome analysis in blood at 2-h time point revealed higher intensity of paraoxonase-1 in the AMI models than in the abdominal sepsis models; the significantly high blood paraoxonase-1 levels in the AMI models were confirmed in a separate quantitative analysis (P = 0.015). Conclusions: Cell-free DNA was demonstrated to be a promising biomarker for the early diagnosis of mesenteric ischemia in a rat model of AMI. Paraoxonase-1 may also play a role in the differential diagnosis of mesenteric ischemia from abdominal sepsis. The current results warrant further investigation in human studies.
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