Pathological Studies on the Protective Effect of a Macrolide Antibiotic, Roxithromycin, against Sulfur Mustard Inhalation Toxicity in a Rat Model

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Macrolide antibiotics have been shown to protect airway epithelial cells and macrophages from sulfur mustard (SM)-induced cytotoxicity. In the current study, the efficacy of roxithromycin in ameliorating SM-induced respiratory injury was further evaluated in a rat model. Anesthetized rats (N = 8/group) were intratracheally exposed to SM by vapor inhalation. For the drug treatment groups, rats were orally given 10, 20, or 40 mg/kg roxithromycin one hr prior to exposure and every twenty-four hr thereafter. After one, three, or seven days of treatment, sections of the lung were examined and scored for histopathological parameters. Treatment with roxithromycin ameliorated many of the symptoms caused by SM in some animals. In particular, treatment at 40 mg/kg for three days showed significant improvements (p < .05) over the untreated group. When the evaluation was focused on trachea, treatment with roxithromycin for three days showed a trend of dose-dependent protection; moreover, the groups treated with 20 or 40 mg/kg of roxithromycin were statistically different (p < .001 and p < .05, respectively) from the untreated group. These results suggest that roxithromycin protects against some damages associated with SM injury in the lung, particularly in the upper respiratory tract.

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