The protective effect of dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) against stress- and indometacin-induced gastrointestinal ulcers was assessed in rats. It was found that stress (restraint at 4°C for 3 h) produced mucosal lesions in the stomach antrum and corpus, and the small intestine. DMSO given in the drinking water at concentrations of 1, 2, 4, or 6% (v/v) 7 days before the application of stress produced dose-dependent decreases in both the number of ulcers and the ulcer index (UI). These decreases were significant at doses of 4 and 6% (v/v). Indometacin was effective in producing ulcers in the gastric antrum and small intestine, but not in the corpus of the stomach, when it was given to rats fasted for 24 h and fed for 1 h before drug administration. Again, pretreatment with DMSO, at doses of 4 and 6% (v/v) for 7 days was effective in reducing significantly the number of ulcers and the UI in the indometacin-treated rats. At all doses of DMSO there were no significant changes in the haemogram or in the histological (light microscopic) picture of the organs examined. A small reduction (6%) in the body weight was observed in rats on the higher dose of DMSO, probably due to decreased feed intake (10%) in this group. Further pharmacological and toxicological studies on DMSO seem warranted.
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