Mortality from severe acute respiratory distress syndrome exceeds 40% and there is no available pharmacologic treatment. Mechanical ventilation contributes to lung dysfunction and mortality by causing ventilator-induced lung injury. We explored the utility of simvastatin in a mouse model of severe ventilator-induced lung injury.
Male C57BL6 mice (n = 7/group) were pretreated with simvastatin or saline and received protective (8 mL/kg) or injurious (25 mL/kg) ventilation for four hours. Three doses of simvastatin (20 mg/kg) or saline were injected intraperitoneally on days −2, −1 and 0 of the experiment. Lung mechanics, (respiratory system elastance, tissue damping and airway resistance), were evaluated by forced oscillation technique, while respiratory system compliance was measured with quasi-static pressure-volume curves. A pathologist blinded to treatment allocation scored hematoxylin-eosin-stained lung sections for the presence of lung injury. Pulmonary endothelial dysfunction was ascertained by bronchoalveolar lavage protein content and lung tissue expression of endothelial junctional protein Vascular Endothelial cadherin by immunoblotting. To assess the inflammatory response in the lung, we determined bronchoalveolar lavage fluid total cell content and neutrophil fraction by microscopy and staining in addition to Matrix-Metalloprotease-9 by ELISA. For the systemic response, we obtained plasma levels of Tumor Necrosis Factor-α, Interleukin-6 and Matrix-Metalloprotease-9 by ELISA. Statistical hypothesis testing was undertaken using one-way analysis of variance and Tukey’s post hoc tests.
Ventilation with high tidal volume (HVt) resulted in significantly increased lung elastance by 3-fold and decreased lung compliance by 45% compared to low tidal volume (LVt) but simvastatin abrogated lung mechanical alterations of HVt. Histologic lung injury score increased four-fold by HVt but not in simvastatin-pretreated mice. Lavage pleocytosis and neutrophilia were induced by HVt but were significantly attenuated by simvastatin. Microvascular protein permeability increase 20-fold by injurious ventilation but only 4-fold with simvastatin. There was a 3-fold increase in plasma Tumor Necrosis Factor-α, a 7-fold increase in plasma Interleukin-6 and a 20-fold increase in lavage fluid Matrix-Metalloprotease-9 by HVt but simvastatin reduced these levels to control. Lung tissue vascular endothelial cadherin expression was significantly reduced by injurious ventilation but remained preserved by simvastatin.
High-dose simvastatin prevents experimental hyperinflation lung injury by angioprotective and anti-inflammatory effects.