Neutropenic individuals are at high risk for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA), a life-threatening infection. To evaluate the therapeutic potential of antioxidants, IPA was induced in neutropenic mice and the effect of N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) on oxidative stress levels and lung injury was analyzed.
Mice were pretreated with three daily intraperitoneal injections of 150 mg/kg cyclophosphamide, followed by intratracheal inoculation with 4.5×106 conidia of Asperǵillus fumiǵatus. The infected mice were then randomly assigned to an amphotericin B (AMB) group, an AMB plus NAC group, or an untreated control (C) group. In each group, the duration of treatment was 24, 48, or 72 h, and activities such as appearance, feeding, and dermal temperature were observed throughout the experiment. Sera and lung tissues were collected and analyzed by quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for total protein, superoxide dismutase (SOD), malondialdehyde (MDA), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interleukin-10 (IL-10) levels. The wet/dry weight ratio of the lung was also calculated and lung sections were stained with hematoxylin-eosin for pathological examination and with methenamine silver stain for fungus detection.
Compared with the mice untreated with NAC, mice in the AMB plus NAC group had increased SOD and reduced MDA levels both systemically and locally at 24, 48, and 72 h after inoculation with conidia. NAC treatment also decreased the pulmonary protein content at 48 and 72 h and the lung wet/dry weight ratio at 24 and 48 h. Additionally, NAC enhanced pulmonary production of TNF-α and IL-10 at 24 h and 48 h.
In combination with antifungal therapy, NAC treatment can alleviate oxidative stress and lung injury associated with IPA in neutropenic mice.