Effects of early dexamethasone treatment on several markers of inflammation and fibrosis in an animal model of lung silicosis in rats – A pilot study
AbstractLung silicosis is primarily caused by inhalation of particles of silicon oxide (silica). Despite a huge progress in understanding the interactions among the pathomechanisms of lung silicosis in the last years, there is a lack of effective therapy. With respect to a wide therapeutic action of corticosteroids, the purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate early effects of dexamethasone on several markers of inflammation and lung fibrosis in a rat model of silicosis. The silicosis model was induced by a single transoral intratracheal instillation of silica (50 mg/ml/animal), while the controls received an equivalent volume of sterile saline. The treatment with intraperitoneal dexamethasone initiated the next day after the silica instillation and was given 2-times a week at a dose of 1 mg/kg, while the controls received an equivalent volume of saline. The animals were euthanized 14 or 28 days after the treatment onset. Total and differential counts of leukocytes in the blood and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid were determined. The presence of collagen in the bronchioles and lung vessels was detected by Sirius red staining and a smooth muscle mass was detected by smooth muscle actin. In comparison to saline, the instillation of silica increased the total count of circulating leukocytes after 14 and 28 days of the experiment (both p<0.05), which was associated with higher counts of lymphocytes (p<0.05 after 14 days, p>0.05 after 28 days) and slight but non-significant increases in neutrophils and eosinophils (both p>0.05). Although the total cell count in the BAL fluid did not change significantly, the percentages and absolute counts of neutrophils, eosinophils, and lymphocytes (p<0.05, p<0.01 or p<0.001) elevated after 14 and 28 days of the experiment. Silica induced an accumulation of collagen in the bronchioles (p<0.001 after both 14 and 28 days) and pulmonary vessels (p<0.01 after both 14 and 28 days) and elevated a formation of smooth muscle mass (p<0.05 after 14 days, p<0.01 or p<0.001 after 28 days). Treatment with dexamethasone decreased circulating leukocytes (p<0.01) and lymphocytes (p<0.001) and increased neutrophils (p<0.05), which was associated with a slightly decreased total cell count in BAL (p>0.05), decline in lymphocytes (p<0.01), and slight decreases in neutrophils and eosinophils after 28 days of the treatment. Moreover, dexamethasone reduced the accumulation of collagen (p<0.01 after 14 days and p<0.001 after 28 days) and the formation of smooth muscle mass (p<0.01 for bronchioles and p>0.05 for vessels after 24 days, p<0.001 for both bronchioles and vessels after 28 days). In conclusion, early dexamethasone treatment mitigated silica-induced granulocytic-lymphocytic inflammation and decreased a formation of collagen and smooth muscle mass in the bronchiolar and vascular walls, demonstrating a therapeutic potential of dexamethasone in the lung silicosis.