• acute lung injury;
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome;
  • endotoxin;
  • hypoxia;
  • lung inflammation


The animal model of inflammatory response induced by intratracheal application of lipopolysaccharide includes many typical features of acute lung injury or the acute respiratory distress syndrome. A number of experimental investigations have been performed to characterize the nature of this injury more effectively. In inflammatory conditions, hypoxia occurs frequently before and in parallel with pulmonary and non-pulmonary pathological events. This current study was designed to examine the in vivo effect of hypoxia as a potentially aggravating condition in endotoxin-induced lung injury. Lipopolysaccharide, 150 µg, was instilled intratracheally into rat lungs, and thereafter animals were exposed to either normoxia or hypoxia (10% oxygen). Lungs were collected 2, 4, 6 and 8 h later. Inflammatory response and tissue damage were evaluated by quantitative analysis of inflammatory cells and mediators, surfactant protein and vascular permeability. A significantly enhanced neutrophil recruitment was seen in lipopolysaccharide-animals exposed to hypoxia compared to lipopolysaccharide-animals under normoxia. This increased neutrophil accumulation was triggered by inflammatory mediators such as tumour necrosis factor-α and macrophage inflammatory protein-1β, secreted by alveolar macrophages. Determination of vascular permeability and surfactant protein-B showed enhanced concentrations in lipopolysaccharide-lungs exposed to hypoxia, which was absent in animals previously alveolar macrophage-depleted. This study demonstrates that hypoxia aggravates lipopolysaccharide injury and therefore represents a second hit injury. The additional hypoxia-induced inflammatory reaction seems to be predominantly localized in the respiratory compartment, underlining the compartmentalized nature of the inflammatory response.