Anastomotic leakage (AL) accounts for a major part of in-house mortality in patients undergoing colorectal surgery. Local ischemia and abdominal sepsis are common risk factors contributing to AL and are characterized by upregulation of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway. The HIF pathway is critically regulated by HIF-prolyl hydroxylases (PHDs). Here, we investigated the significance of PHDs and the effects of pharmacologic PHD inhibition (PHI) during anastomotic healing. Ischemic or septic colonic anastomoses were created in mice by ligation of mesenteric vessels or lipopolysaccharide-induced abdominal sepsis, respectively. Genetic PHD deficiency (Phd1–/–, Phd2+/–, and Phd3–/–) or PHI were applied to manipulate PHD activity. Pharmacologic PHI and genetic PHD2 haplodeficiency (Phd2+/–) significantly improved healing of ischemic or septic colonic anastomoses, as indicated by increased bursting pressure and reduced AL rates. Only Phd2+/– (but not PHI or Phd1–/–) protected from sepsis-related mortality. Mechanistically, PHI and Phd2+/– induced immunomodulatory (M2) polarization of macrophages, resulting in increased collagen content and attenuated inflammation-driven immune cell recruitment. We conclude that PHI improves healing of colonic anastomoses in ischemic or septic conditions by Phd2+/–-mediated M2 polarization of macrophages, conferring a favorable microenvironment for anastomotic healing. Patients with critically perfused colorectal anastomosis or abdominal sepsis could benefit from pharmacologic PHI.


Moritz J. Strowitzki, Gwendolyn Kimmer, Julian Wehrmann, Alina S. Ritter, Praveen Radhakrishnan, Vanessa M. Opitz, Christopher Tuffs, Marvin Biller, Julia Kugler, Ulrich Keppler, Jonathan M. Harnoss, Johannes Klose, Thomas Schmidt, Alfonso Blanco, Cormac T. Taylor, Martin Schneider


Download this citation for these citation managers:

Or, download this citation in these formats:

If you experience problems using these citation formats, send us feedback.