Sepsis-associated encephalopathy (SAE) is characterised by long-term cognitive impairment and psychiatric illness in sepsis survivors, associated with increased morbidity and mortality. There is a lack of effective therapeutics for SAE. Molecular hydrogen (H2) plays multiple roles in septic diseases by regulating neuroinflammation, reducing oxidative stress parameters, regulating signalling pathways, improving mitochondrial dysfunction, and regulating astrocyte and microglia activation. Here we report the protective effect of hydrogen-rich saline in the juvenile SAE rat model and its possible underlying mechanisms. Rats were injected intraperitoneally with lipopolysaccharide at a dose of 5 mg/kg to induce sepsis; Hydrogen-rich saline (HRS) was administered 1 h after LPS induction at a dose of 5 ml/kg and nigericin at 1 mg/kg 1 h before LPS injection. H&E staining for neuronal damage, TUNEL assay for detection of apoptotic cells, immunofluorescence, ELISA protocol for inflammatory cytokines and 8-OHdG determination and western blot analysis to determine the effect of HRS in LPS-induced septic rats. Rats treated with HRS showed decreased TNF-α and IL-1β expression levels. HRS treatment enhanced the activities of antioxidant enzymes (SOD, CAT and GPX) and decreased MDA and MPO activities. The number of MMP-9 and NLRP3 positive immunoreactivity cells decreased in the HRS-treated group. Subsequently, GFAP, IBA-1 and CD86 immunoreactivity were reduced, and CD206 increased after HRS treatment. 8-OHdG expression was decreased in the HRS-treated rats. Western blot analysis showed decreased NLRP3, ASC, caspase-1, MMP-2/9, TLR4 and Bax protein levels after HRS treatment, while Bcl-2 expression increased after HRS treatment. These data demonstrated that HRS attenuated neuroinflammation, NLRP3 inflammasome activation, neuronal injury, and mitochondrial damage via NLRP3/Caspase-1/TLR4 signalling in the juvenile rat model, making it a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of paediatric SAE.
Background: Sepsis-associated encephalopathy (SAE) is one of the most common types of sepsis-related organ dysfunction without overt central nervous system (CNS) infection. It is associated with higher mortality, low quality of life, and long-term neurological sequelae in suspected patients. At present there is no specific treatment for SAE rather than supportive therapy and judicious use of antibiotics, which are sometimes associated with adverse effects. Molecular hydrogen (H2) has been reported to play crucial role in regulating inflammatory responses, neuronal injury, apoptosis and mitochondrial dysfunction in adult models of SAE. Here we report the protective effect of hydrogen-rich saline in juvenile SAE rat model and its possible underling mechanism(s). Materials and methods: Rats were challenged with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at a dose of 8 mg/kg injected intraperitoneally to induce sepsis and hydrogen-rich saline (HRS) administered 1 h following LPS induction at a dose of 5 ml/kg. Rats were divided into: sham, sham + HRS, LPS and LPS + HRS. At 48 h, rats were sacrificed and Nissl staining for neuronal injury, TUNEL assay for apoptotic cells detection, immunohistochemistry, and ELISA protocol for inflammatory cytokines determination, mitochondrial dysfunction parameters, electron microscopy and western blot analysis were studied to examine the effect of HRS in LPS-induced septic rats. Results: Rats treated with HRS improved neuronal injury, improvement in rats’ survival rate. ELISA analysis showed decreased TNF-α and IL-1β and increased IL-10 expression levels in the HRS-treated group. Apoptotic cells were decreased after HRS administration in septic rats. The numbers of GFAP and IBA-1positive cells were attenuated in the HRS-treated group when compared to the LPS group. Subsequently, GFAP and IBA-1 immunoreactivity were decreased after HRS treatment. Mitochondrial membrane potential detected by JC-1 dye and ATP content were decreased in septic rats, which were improved after HRS treatment, while release of ROS was increased in the LPS group reverted by HRS treatment, ameliorating mitochondrial dysfunction. Further analysis by transmission electron microscopy showed decreased number of mitochondria and synapses, and disrupted mitochondrial membrane ultrastructure in the LPS group, while HRS administration increased mitochondria and synapses number. Conclusion: These data demonstrated that HRS can improve survival rate, attenuate neuroinflammation, astrocyte and microglial activation, neuronal injury and mitochondrial dysfunction in juvenile SAE rat model, making it a potential therapeutic candidate in treating paediatric SAE. Keywords: Apoptosis; Astrocyte; Microglia; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Neuroinflammation; Neuronal injury; Paediatrics; Sepsis-associated encephalopathy.