Protective effects of puerarin on acute lung and cerebrum injury induced by hypobaric hypoxia via the regulation of aquaporin (AQP) via NF-κB signaling pathway

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Hypobaric hypoxia, frequently encountered at high altitude, may lead to lung and cerebrum injury. Our study aimed to investigate whether puerarin could exert ameliorative effects on rats exposed to hypobaric hypoxia via regulation of aquaporin (AQP) and NF-κB signaling pathway in lung and cerebrum.

Materials and methods

40 Sprague Dawley rats were divided into four groups (normal control group, hypobaric hypoxia group, puerarin group and dexamethasone group). Wet/dry ratio, blood gas, pathological changes of lung and cerebrum and spatial memory were observed in each group. Inflammatory cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were determined with ELISA and expression of AQP1, AQP4, NF-κB signaling pathway in lung and cerebrum with western blot


Puerarin showed significant preventative effects on tissue injury and behavioral changes, as evidenced by histopathological findings and Morris water maze. In addition, levels of inflammatory cytokines in BALF decreased in the two preventative groups compared with those of hypobaric hypoxia group. AQP in lung and cerebrum increased under the condition of hypobaric hypoxia while was down regulated in both two preventative groups. NF-κB and IκB was also inhibited by puerarin.


Our study suggested that lung and cerebrum injury, increased inflammatory cytokines in BALF and increased AQP1, AQP4 and NF-κB signaling pathway occurred under the condition of hypobaric hypoxia. Moreover, puerarin could prevent lung and cerebrum injury of rats exposed to hypobaric hypoxia via down-regulation of inflammatory cytokines, AQP1 and AQP4 expression and NF-κB signaling pathway.

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