Dexmedetomidine Protects Against Multi-Organ Dysfunction Induced by Heatstroke via Sustaining The Intestinal Integrity

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Previous studies have indicated that gut-derived endotoxin played a pivotal role for aggravating systemic inflammatory response to multi-organ dysfunction under heatstroke. Dexmedetomidine (DEX) could protect against inflammation and multi-organ injury in various scenarios. The aim of this study was to explore the protective effect of DEX on heatstroke and the mechanism involved. Male C57BL/6 mice were placed in a controlled climate chamber (40 ± 1°C) until the maximum core temperature (Tc, Max) of 42.7°C, the received criterion of heatstroke, was attained, DEX (25 μg/kg) or 0.9% saline was injected intraperitoneally immediately. The results showed that DEX could significantly attenuate multi-organ injury induced by heatstroke, simultaneously decrease levels of serum inflammatory cytokines through inhibiting the intestinal nuclear factor-κB activation. Furthermore, to assess the effects of DEX on intestine mucosal barrier under heatstroke, the levels of plasma endotoxin, FD4, and D-lactate were detected and the expression of tight junction proteins occludin and ZO-1 was analyzed by western blot and immunohistochemistry. Meanwhile, transmission electron microscopy was employed to confirm the ultrastructure of intestine. Interestingly, we found that DEX decreased the intestinal permeability and sustained the integrity of intestinal barrier. Finally, to evaluate the anti-apoptosis effect of DEX, the pro-apoptotic protein Bax and anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 were analyzed by western blot, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl-transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining was conducted. The results showed that DEX decreased TUNEL-positive cells induced by heatstroke in a Bax/Bcl-2-related manner. Taken together, our results indicate that DEX could protect against inflammation and multi-organ injury induced by heatstroke via sustaining the intestinal integrity.

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