Crocin alleviates lipopolysaccharide-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome by protecting against glycocalyx damage and suppressing inflammatory signaling pathways

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To explore the mechanisms of crocin against glycocalyx damage and inflammatory injury in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) mice and LPS-stimulated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).


Mice were randomly divided into control, LPS, and crocin + LPS (15, 30, and 60 mg/kg) groups. HUVECs were separated into eight groups: control, crocin, matrix metalloproteinase 9 inhibitor (MMP-9 inhib), cathepsin L inhibitor (CTL inhib), LPS, MMP-9 inhib + LPS, CTL inhib + LPS, and crocin + LPS. The potential cytotoxic effect of crocin on HUVECs was mainly evaluated through methylthiazolyldiphenyl-tetrazolium bromide assay. Histological changes were assessed via hemotoxylin and eosin staining. Lung capillary permeability was detected on the basis of wet–dry ratio and through fluorescein isothiocyanate-albumin assay. Then, protein levels were detected through Western blot analysis, immunohistochemical staining, and immunofluorescence.


This study showed that crocin can improve the pulmonary vascular permeability in mice with LPS-induced ARDS and inhibit the inflammatory signaling pathways of high mobility group box, nuclear factor κB, and mitogen-activated protein kinase in vivo and in vitro. Crocin also protected against the degradation of endothelial glycocalyx heparan sulfate and syndecan-4 by inhibiting the expressions of CTL, heparanase, and MMP-9 in vivo and in vitro. Overall, this study revealed the protective effects of crocin on LPS-induced ARDS and elaborated their underlying mechanism.


Crocin alleviated LPS-induced ARDS by protecting against glycocalyx damage and suppressing inflammatory signaling pathways.

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This work was supported by funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no.: 81670078).

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Correspondence to Xiao-zhi Wang.

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Zhang, D., Qi, B., Zhu, W.w. et al. Crocin alleviates lipopolysaccharide-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome by protecting against glycocalyx damage and suppressing inflammatory signaling pathways. Inflamm. Res. (2020) doi:10.1007/s00011-019-01314-z

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  • Crocin
  • Inflammatory responses
  • Glycocalyx damage
  • LPS
  • ARDS