Unfractionated Heparin Protects Microcirculation in Endotoxemic Rats by Antagonizing Histones

Published:October 15, 2022DOI:



      Levels of extracellular histones are highly increased in sepsis and may facilitate microcirculatory dysfunction. Unfractionated heparin (UFH) binds histones and neutralizes their cytotoxicity. We investigated the effect of UFH on microcirculatory dysfunction by interacting with extracellular histones in endotoxemic rats.


      Twenty-four Wistar rats were randomly divided into three groups: control, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) group, and LPS + UFH group. In the LPS and LPS + UFH groups, 10 mg/kg LPS was injected to induce endotoxemia, and 100 IU/kg/h UFH was administered intravenously in the LPS + UFH group. The rats underwent midline laparotomy, and then intestinal microcirculation was evaluated using an incident dark field microscope. Circulating histones and microstructures of the rat intestinal microvascular endothelium were also detected. Additionally, the antagonistic effect of UFH on histone-induced cytotoxicity was investigated in human intestinal microvascular endothelial cells.


      UFH protected the microcirculation of the intestinal serosa and mucosa in endotoxemic rats, as evidenced by increased total vessel density, perfused vessel density, and proportion of perfused vessels of both the serosa and mucosa, and increased microcirculatory flow index of the mucosa in the LPS + UFH group. UFH treatment decreased the levels of circulating histones and alleviated intestinal microvascular endothelial injuries in endotoxemic rats. Furthermore, UFH inhibited histone cytotoxicity in vitro.


      UFH attenuated microcirculatory dysfunction in endotoxemic rats by antagonizing extracellular histones, thereby providing a potential therapeutic strategy for sepsis.


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