Published online Nov 21, 2015. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i43.12351
Peer-review started: March 27, 2015
First decision: April 24, 2015
Revised: May 14, 2015
Accepted: July 18, 2015
Article in press: July 18, 2015
Published online: November 21, 2015
AIM: To evaluate the antioxidant effect of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) on the stomach of rats with portal hypertension.
METHODS: Twenty-four male Wistar rats weighing ± 250 g were divided into four experimental groups (n = 6 each): Sham-operated (SO), SO + NAC, partial portal vein ligation (PPVL), and PPVL + NAC. Treatment with NAC in a dose of 10 mg/kg (i.p.) diluted in 0.6 mL of saline solution was administered daily for 7 d starting 8 d after the surgery. Animals from the PPVL and SO group received saline solution (0.6 mL) for the same period of time as the PPVL + NAC and SO + NAC group. On the 15th day the animals were anesthetized and we evaluated portal pressure by cannulating mesenteric artery. After, we removed the stomach for further analysis. We performed immunohistochemical analysis for endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and nitrotirosine (NTT) proteins in stomach. We also evaluated eNOS and VEGF by Western blot analysis and assessed DNA damage in blood samples by the comet assay.
RESULTS: The portal hypertension group exhibited increases in portal pressure when compared to SO group (29.8 ± 1.8 vs 12.0 ± 0.3 mmHg) (P < 0.001). The same was observed when we compared the eNOS (56.8 ± 3.7 vs 13.46 ± 2.8 pixels) (P < 0.001), VEGF (34.9 ± 4.7 vs 17.46 ± 2.6 pixels) (P < 0.05), and NTT (39.01 ± 4.0 vs 12.77 ± 2.3 pixels) (P < 0.05) expression by immunohistochemistry of the PPVL animals with the SO group. The expression of eNOS (0.39 ± 0.03 vs 0.25 ± 0.03 a.μ) (P < 0.01) and VEGF (0.38 ± 0.04 vs 0.26 ± 0.04 a.μ) (P < 0.01) were also evaluated by Western blot analysis, and we observed an increase of both proteins on PPVL animals. We also evaluated the DNA damage by comet assay, and observed an increase on damage index and damage frequency on those animals. NAC decreased portal pressure values in PPVL + NAC animals (16.46 ± 2 vs 29.8 ± 1.8 mmHg) (P < 0.001) when compared to PPVL. The expression of eNOS (14.60 ± 4.1 vs 56.8 ± 3.7 pixels) (P < 0.001), VEGF (19.53 ± 3.2 vs 34.9 ± 4.7 pixels) (P < 0.05) and NTT (21.84 ± 0.7 vs 39.01 ± 4.0 pixels) (P < 0.05) evaluated by immunohistochemistry were also reduced in PPVL + NAC animals. Also, when evaluated by Western blot eNOS expression (0.32 ± 0.03 vs 0.39 ± 0.03 a.μ) (P < 0.05) and VEGF expression (0.31 ± 0.09 vs 0.38 ± 0.04 a.μ) (P < 0.01). Furthermore, NAC modulated DNA damage in PPVL + NAC animals.
CONCLUSION: In view of these results, we believe NAC is able to protect the stomach from the alterations induced by the PPVL procedure.
Core tip: Portal hypertension (PH) is a syndrome with serious manifestations as ascites, hepatic encephalopathy and development of collateral circulation, characterized by vasodilation and angiogenesis. This mechanism, intended to divert blood from the site of obstruction, is the leading cause of death among these patients, since it leads to upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Therapies that may contribute to control the development of collateral circulation are been investigated in an attempt to improve the quality of life of PH patients. This paper proposes a novel therapy, using an antioxidant effective in reducing this collateral circulation in an animal model of portal hypertension.