The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of Shengmai San (SMS), a traditional Chinese herbal medicine, on heatstroke-induced circulatory shock and oxidative damage in the brain in rats. Anesthetized rats were exposed to a high ambient temperature (43°C) to induce heatstroke. After the onset of heatstroke, the values of mean arterial pressure, cerebral perfusion pressure, cerebral blood flow, and brain partial pressure of O 2 were all significantly lower than those in normothermic controls. However, the values of intracranial pressure, brain and colonic temperatures, and brain levels of free radicals, lipid peroxidation, and cellular ischemia and damage markers were all greater in heatstroke rats compared with those of normothermic controls. Pretreatment or post-treatment with SMS significantly reduced the hypotension, intracranial hypertension, cerebral hypoperfusion and hypoxia and increased levels of ischemia and damage markers in the brain during heatstroke. The protective effects exerted by SMS pretreatment is superior to those of SMS post-treatment. The results demonstrate that SMS is effective for prevention and repair of circulatory shock and ischemic and oxidative damage in the brain during heatstroke.
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