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Pulmonary contusion induced by blunt chest trauma can result in respiratory dysfunction and secondary inflammatory reaction, which can take part in the occurrence of systemic inflammatory response syndrome and multiple-organ dysfunction syndrome. However, the reason and mechanism of pulmonary contusion is urgently for clarity.To investigate the protective effect and mechanism of ligustrazine on cell apoptosis in the acute stage of pulmonary contusion induced by blunt chest trauma in rats.Healthy male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided equally and randomly into three groups: control group, model group and ligustrazine group. Blunt chest trauma models were prepared in the latter two groups. Rats in the ligustrazine group were intraperitoneally injected with 80 mg/kg ligustrazine immediately after blunt chest trauma. Lung tissues were collected at 1, 2 and 3 hours after blunt chest trauma to observe pathomorphological changes. The apoptotic index, pulmonary microvascular permeability and severity of pulmonary edema were detected to assess the lung function. Expressions of Caspase-3, Bax and Bcl-2 were detected by immunohistochemical staining, and blood tumor necrosis factor alpha was also detected.In the model group, tumor necrosis factor alpha increased at 1 hour and increased sharply in 2 and 3 hours after blunt chest trauma (P < 0.05); the apoptotic index and the degree of lung injury increased significantly at 2 and 3 hours after blunt chest trauma (P < 0.05); pulmonary microvascular permeability and degree of pulmonary edema were increased (P < 0.05); the expression of Caspase-3 increase significantly (P < 0.05) with the decrease of the ratio of Bcl-2 to Bax (P < 0.05). In the ligustrazine group, tumor necrosis factor alpha decreased notably (P < 0.05); the apoptotic index and the degree of lung injury decreased significantly after blunt chest trauma (P < 0.05); pulmonary microvascular permeability and the degree of pulmonary edema were relieved (P < 0.05); the expression of Caspase-3 decreased significantly (P < 0.05) with the increase of the ratio of Bcl-2 to Bax after treated with ligustrazine (P < 0.01). These findings indicate that ligustrazine can alleviate cell apoptosis in the acute stage of pulmonary contusion induced by blunt chest trauma by inhibiting the tumor necrosis factor alpha, down-regulating the expression of Caspase-3 and enhancing the ratio of Bcl-2/Bax.