Protective effects of dexmedetomidine on small intestinal ischaemia-reperfusion injury in horses
BACKGROUND: Strangulating small intestinal lesions in the horse have increased morbidity and mortality compared to nonstrangulating obstructions due to mucosal barrier disruption and subsequent endotoxaemia. OBJECTIVES: To investigate protective effects of dexmedetomidine on small intestinal ischaemia-reperfusion injury in the horse. STUDY DESIGN: Randomised, controlled, experimental study. METHODS: Eighteen systemically healthy horses were randomly assigned to three groups: control, preconditioning, and post-conditioning. During isoflurane anaesthesia, complete ischaemia was induced in a 1-m segment of jejunum for 90 minutes. Horses in the preconditioning and post-conditioning groups received dexmedetomidine (3.5 µg/kg followed by 7 µg/kg/h) before (preconditioning) or after beginning ischaemia (post-conditioning), and during reperfusion. Jejunal biopsies were collected before ischaemia (baseline-1), at the end of the ischaemic period (ischaemia), and 30 minutes after reperfusion (reperfusion-1). Additional biopsies were taken 24 hours after reperfusion from ischaemia-reperfusion-injured jejunum (reperfusion-2). Epithelial injury was scored histologically, and morphometric analyses were used to calculate villus surface area (VSA) denuded of epithelium. Data were analysed using analysis of variance, Kruskal-Wallis and Wilcoxon two-sample tests. RESULTS: In the control group, epithelial injury scores and percentage of VSA denudation for ischaemia-reperfusion-injured jejunum were higher compared to baseline-1 at all time points. The ischaemia and both reperfusion samples from the pre- and post-conditioning groups had lower epithelial injury scores and percentage of VSA epithelial denudation compared to the control group, with no difference from baseline-1 at any time point for the preconditioning group. MAIN LIMITATIONS: Preconditioning has limited application in the clinical setting with naturally occurring strangulating small intestinal lesions. CONCLUSIONS: Dexmedetomidine was protective for small intestinal ischaemia-reperfusion injury in the horse when administered before or during ischaemia.