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Background: Fluid loading and hyperosmolar solutions can modify the cortical brain microcirculation and the endothelial glycocalyx (EG). This study compared the short-term effects of liberal fluid loading with a restrictive fluid intake followed by osmotherapy with hypertonic saline (HTS) on cerebral cortical microcirculation and EG integrity in a rabbit craniotomy model.

Methods: The experimental rabbits were allocated randomly to receive either <2 mL/kg/h (group R, n=14) or 30 mL/kg/h (group L, n=14) of balanced isotonic fluids for 1 hour. Then, the animals were randomized to receive 5 mL/kg intravenous infusion of either 3.2% saline (group HTS, n=14) or 0.9% saline (group normal saline, n=13) in a 20-minute infusion. Microcirculation in the cerebral cortex based on sidestream dark-field imaging, a morphologic index of glycocalyx damage to sublingual and cortical brain microcirculation (the perfused boundary region), and serum syndecan-1 levels were evaluated.

Results: Lower cortical brain perfused small vessel density (P=0.0178), perfused vessel density (P=0.0286), and total vessel density (P=0.0447) were observed in group L, compared with group R. No differences were observed between the HTS and normal saline groups after osmotherapy. Cerebral perfused boundary region values (P=0.0692) and hematocrit-corrected serum syndecan-1 levels (P=0.0324) tended to be higher in group L than in group R animals.

Conclusions: Liberal fluid loading was associated with altered cortical cerebral microcirculation and EG integrity parameters. The 3.2% saline treatment did not affect cortical cerebral microcirculation or EG integrity markers.

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