Background: Cepharanthine possesses strong anti-inflammation capacity. We sought to clarify whether cepharanthine could mitigate pro-inflammatory cytokine production in acute lung injury induced by hemorrhagic shock/resuscitation (HS/RES). The involvement of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) was also investigated. Methods: Male Sprague Dawley rats were allocated to receive HS/RES, HS/RES plus iv cepharanthine or HS/RES plus cepharanthine plus the HO-1 activity inhibitor tin protoporphyrin (SnPP) and denoted as the HS/RES, HS/RES + CEP, and HS/RES + CEP + SnPP group, respectively. HS/RES was achieved by blood drawing to lower mean arterial pressure (40-45 mmHg for 60 min) followed by shed blood/saline mixtures re-infusion. The rats were monitored for another 5. h before sacrifice. Results: Arterial blood gas, lung permeability and histologic assays (including histopathology, neutrophil infiltration, and lung water content) confirmed that HS/RES induced significant lung injury. Significant increases in pulmonary levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, prostaglandin E2 and cyclooxygenase-2 confirmed that HS/RES induced a significant inflammatory response in the lungs. Cepharanthine significantly attenuated the pulmonary pro-inflammatory cytokine production and lung injury induced by HS/RES. However, the protective effects of cepharanthine were blocked by SnPP, the potent HO-1 activity inhibitor. Conclusion: Cepharanthine significantly mitigates pro-inflammatory cytokine response in acute lung injury induced by HS/RES in rats. The mechanism may involve the HO-1 pathway.
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