N-Acetylcysteine protects the rat diaphragm from the decreased contractility associated with controlled mechanical ventilation*

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Abstract

Objective:

Controlled mechanical ventilation results in diaphragmatic dysfunction, and oxidative stress has been shown to be an important contributor to ventilator-induced diaphragm dysfunction. We hypothesized that the administration of an antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine, would restore the redox balance in the diaphragm and prevent against the deleterious effects of controlled mechanical ventilation.

Design:

Randomized, controlled experiment.

Settings:

Basic science animal laboratory.

Subjects:

Male Wistar rats, 14 wks old.

Interventions:

Anesthetized rats were submitted for 24 hrs to either spontaneous breathing receiving 150 mg/kg N-acetylcysteine (SBNAC) or saline (SBSAL) or to controlled mechanical ventilation receiving 150 mg/kg N-acetylcysteine (MVNAC) or saline (MVSAL).

Measurements and Main Results:

After 24 hrs of controlled mechanical ventilation, diaphragmatic force production was significantly lower in MVSAL compared with all groups. Importantly, administration of N-acetylcysteine completely abolished this controlled mechanical ventilation-induced diaphragmatic contractile dysfunction. Diaphragmatic protein oxidation was significantly increased after 24 hrs of controlled mechanical ventilation (+53%, p < .01) in MVSAL animals, whereas administration of N-acetylcysteine prevented this controlled mechanical ventilation-induced oxidative stress. Diaphragmatic 20S proteasome activity was increased in MVSAL (+62%, p < .05). Further, compared with SBSAL, diaphragm caspase-3 activity was significantly increased in MVSAL (+279%, p < .001), and N-acetylcysteine treatment provided partial protection against caspase-3 activation. Diaphragmatic calpain activity was significantly increased after controlled mechanical ventilation (+137%, p < .001) in MVSAL animals, but N-acetylcysteine treatment protected against this event. Finally, significant negative correlations existed between calpain activity and diaphragm force production (r from −0.56 to −0.49, p < .05).

Conclusions:

These data show that the administration of N-acetylcysteine protects the diaphragm from the deleterious effects of controlled mechanical ventilation. Specifically, N-acetylcysteine prevents against controlled mechanical ventilation-induced diaphragmatic oxidative stress and proteolysis and abolishes controlled mechanical ventilation-induced diaphragmatic contractile dysfunction.

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