Objective: Controlled mechanical ventilation results in diaphragmatic dysfunction, and oxidative stress has been shown to be an important contributor to ventilator-induced diaphragm dysfunction. We hypothesized that the administration of an antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine, would restore the redox balance in the diaphragm and prevent against the deleterious effects of controlled mechanical ventilation.
Design: Randomized, controlled experiment.
Settings: Basic science animal laboratory.
Subjects: Male Wistar rats, 14 wks old.
Interventions: Anesthetized rats were submitted for 24 hrs to either spontaneous breathing receiving 150 mg/kg N-acetylcysteine (SBNAC) or saline (SBSAL) or to controlled mechanical ventilation receiving 150 mg/kg N-acetylcysteine (MVNAC) or saline (MVSAL).
Measurements and main results: After 24 hrs of controlled mechanical ventilation, diaphragmatic force production was significantly lower in MVSAL compared with all groups. Importantly, administration of N-acetylcysteine completely abolished this controlled mechanical ventilation-induced diaphragmatic contractile dysfunction. Diaphragmatic protein oxidation was significantly increased after 24 hrs of controlled mechanical ventilation (+53%, p < .01) in MVSAL animals, whereas administration of N-acetylcysteine prevented this controlled mechanical ventilation-induced oxidative stress. Diaphragmatic 20S proteasome activity was increased in MVSAL (+62%, p < .05). Further, compared with SBSAL, diaphragm caspase-3 activity was significantly increased in MVSAL (+279%, p < .001), and N-acetylcysteine treatment provided partial protection against caspase-3 activation. Diaphragmatic calpain activity was significantly increased after controlled mechanical ventilation (+137%, p < .001) in MVSAL animals, but N-acetylcysteine treatment protected against this event. Finally, significant negative correlations existed between calpain activity and diaphragm force production (r from -0.56 to -0.49, p < .05).
Conclusions: These data show that the administration of N-acetylcysteine protects the diaphragm from the deleterious effects of controlled mechanical ventilation. Specifically, N-acetylcysteine prevents against controlled mechanical ventilation-induced diaphragmatic oxidative stress and proteolysis and abolishes controlled mechanical ventilation-induced diaphragmatic contractile dysfunction.