Background: Lower limb ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) imposes oxidative stress, elicits inflammatory response, and subsequently induces acute lung injury. Ischemic preconditioning (IP), a process of transient I/R, mitigates the acute lung injury induced by I/R. We sought to elucidate whether the protective effects of IP involve heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). Methods: Adult male rats were randomized to receive I/R, I/R plus IP, I/R plus IP plus the HO-1 inhibitor tin protoporphyrin (SnPP) (n = 12 in each group). Control groups were run simultaneously. I/R was induced by applying rubber band tourniquet high around each thigh for 3 h followed by reperfusion for 3 h. To achieve IP, three cycles of bilateral lower limb I/R (i.e., ischemia for 10 min followed by reperfusion for 10 min) were performed. IP was performed immediately before I/R. After sacrifice, degree of lung injury was determined. Results: Histologic findings, together with assays of leukocyte infiltration (polymorphonuclear leukocytes/alveoli ratio and myeloperoxidase activity) and lung water content (wet/dry weight ratio), confirmed that I/R induced acute lung injury. I/R also caused significant inflammatory response (increases in chemokine, cytokine, and prostaglandin E 2 concentrations), imposed significant oxidative stress (increases in nitric oxide and malondialdehyde concentrations), and up-regulated HO-1 expression in lung tissues. IP significantly enhanced HO-1 up-regulation and, in turn, mitigated oxidative stress, inflammatory response, and acute lung injury induced by I/R. In addition, the protective effects of IP were counteracted by SnPP. Conclusions: The protective effects of IP on mitigating acute lung injury induced by lower limb I/R are mediated by HO-1.
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