The American journal of Chinese medicine

Effect of rhubarb pre-treatment on intestinal microcirculation in septic rats.

PMID 25176604


The intestine plays a vital role in the pathophysiology of sepsis development. The objective of the present study was to explore the effects of rhubarb on intestinal microcirculation in septic rats. We used moorFLPI laser speckle imaging to detect the blood flow of the intestinal mucosa and wall. Using an ELISA, we assayed the concentration of lactate (L) and pyruvic acid (P) in the intestinal tissue to calculate the ratio of lactate to pyruvic acid (L/P ratio). To observe the intestinal mucosal capillaries, gelatin and ink were perfused into the intestine and subsequently stained with hematoxylin and eosin (HE) to measure the ratio of the vessel area. We then used immunohistochemistry to measure CD31 expression. Using an MTT assay, the effect of the rhubarb extract on the proliferation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) was analyzed. The blood flow in the intestinal wall and mucosa of the control, sham and rhubarb-treated groups was significantly higher, while the sepsis group had relatively low blood flow. The L/P ratio in the intestinal tissue was larger in the sepsis group than in the other three groups. The microvascular area (MVA) in the sepsis group was smaller than in the control group, sham group or rhubarb group. Positive expression for CD31 was observed in the cytoplasm of vascular endothelial cells. The intestinal mucosal capillaries were reduced in septic rats as compared to the other three groups. HUVEC proliferation was enhanced by the rhubarb extract monomers at 1 μmol/L, but suppressed at higher concentrations of 10 to 100 μmol/L. These results suggest that pre-treatment with rhubarb prior to sepsis induction promotes the expansion of the intestinal mucosal capillaries, protects intestinal mucosal capillary endothelial cells and increases the number of functional intestinal capillaries.