Radiation enteritis occurs as a response to abdominal radiation, which can cause mucosal damage in the gastrointestinal mucosal epithelium. The small intestine is one of the most radiosensitive organs in the abdomen. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of octreotide (OCT) administration on heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression of the radiation enteritis model. Rats received 50 mg/kg/day OCT for 4 days before irradiation and continued for 3 days after irradiation. Intestinal myeloperoxidase (MPO) activities, malondialdehyde (MDA) levels are indicators of oxidative damage while caspase-3 activities reveal apoptosis degree of the small intestine. At histological examination, the terminal ileum tissue was analyzed for morphological changes. Irradiation significantly increased the intestinal MPO and caspase-3 activities, MDA levels and HO-1 expression in comparison to sham control group. OCT treatment was associated with increased HO-1 expression and caspase-3 activity, decreased MPO activity and MDA levels. Histological examination revealed that the intestinal mucosal structure was preserved in the OCT treated group. OCT appears to have protective effects against radiation-induced intestinal damage. This protective effect is, in part, mediated by modification of the inflammatory response and the induction of HO-1 expression. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.