N-acetylcysteine abrogates acute lung injury induced by endotoxin

Shang Jyh Kao, David Wang, Hen I. Lin, Hsing I. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


1. Acute lung injury (ALI) or acute respiratory distress syndrome is a serious clinical problem with high mortality. N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is an anti-oxidant and a free radical scavenger. It has been reporeted recently that NAC ameliorates organ damage induced by endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide; LPS) in conscious rats. The present study was designed to evaluate the effects of NAC on LPS-induced ALI and other changes in anaesthetized rats. 2. Sprague-Dawley rats were anaesthetized with pentobarbital (40 mg/kg, i.p.). Endotracheal intubation was performed to provide artificial ventilation. Arterial pressure and heart rate were monitored. The extent of ALI was evaluated with the lung weight (LW)/bodyweight ratio, LW gain, exhaled nitric oxide (NO) and protein concentration in bronchoalveolar lavage (PCBAL). Haematocrit, white blood cells, plasma nitrate/nitrite, methyl guanidine (MG), tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-a and interleukin (IL)-1b were measured. Pathological changes in the lung were examined and evaluated. 3. Endotoxaemia was produced by injection of 10 mg/kg, i.v., LPS (Escherichia coli). Animals were randomly divided into three groups. In the vehicle group, rats received an i.v. drip of physiological saline solution (PSS) at a rate of 0.3 mL/h. The LPS group received an i.v. drip of PSS for 1 h, followed by LPS (10 mg/kg by slow blous injection, i.v., over 1-2 min). Rats in the LPS + NAC group received NAC by i.v. drip at a rate of 150 mg/kg per h (0.3 mL/h) for 60 min starting 10 min before LPS administration (10 mg/kg by slow blous injection, i.v., over 1-2 min). Each group was observed for a period of 6 h. 4. N-Acetylcysteine treatment improved the LPS-induced hypotension and leukocytopenia. It also reduced the extent of ALI, as evidenced by reductions in LW changes, exhaled NO, PCBAL and lung pathology. In addition, NAC diminished the LPS-induced increases in nitrate/nitrite, MG, TNF-a and IL-1b. 5. In another series of experiments, LPS increased the mortality rate compared with the vehicle group (i.v. drip of PSS at a rate of 0.3 mL/h) during a 6 h observation period. N-Acetylcysteine, given 10 min prior to LPS, significantly increased the survival rate. 6. The results of the present study suggest that NAC exerts a protective effect on the LPS-induced ALI. The mechanisms of action may be mediated through the reduction of the production of NO, free radicals and pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


  • Acute lung injury
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Cytokines
  • Endotoxin
  • N-acetylcysteine
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'N-acetylcysteine abrogates acute lung injury induced by endotoxin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this