Tanshinone IIA suppresses lung injury and apoptosis, and modulates protein kinase B and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase pathways in rats challenged with seawater exposure

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SUMMARY1. Tanshinone IIA (TIIA) is one of the main active components of the Chinese herb, Danshen. In the present study, we investigated the role of apoptosis in seawater exposure-induced acute lung injury (ALI), and explored the effects of TIIA on lung injury, apoptosis, and protein kinase B (Akt) and etracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) pathways in seawater-challenged rats. The rats were randomly divided into four groups: (i) naive group, no drug was given; (ii) TIIA control group, TIIA (50 mg/kg) was given intraperitoneally; (iii) seawater (SW) group, seawater (4 mL/kg) was given; and (iv) TIIA/SW group, TIIA (50 mg/kg) was injected intraperitoneally 10 min after seawater instillation.2. The results showed that TIIA treatment significantly improved seawater exposure-induced lung histopathological changes, alleviated the decrease in PaO2, and reduced lung oedema, vascular leakage and cell infiltration. As shown by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick end labelling (TUNEL) assay, seawater exposure induced apoptosis in lung tissue cells. Furthermore, seawater exposure also changed apoptosis-related factors Bcl-2 and caspase-3, and caused a reduction in the activation of Akt and ERK1/2 pathways. Furthermore, TIIA treatment decreased the number of apoptotic cells, reversed changes in Bcl-2 and caspase-3, and upregulated the activation of Akt and ERK1/2 in seawater-challenged rats.3. In conclusion, the data suggest that apoptosis might play an important role in seawater exposure-induced lung injury and that TIIA could significantly attenuate the severity of ALI and apoptosis in seawater-challenged rats, which is possibly through modulation of Akt and ERK1/2 pathways.

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