• Neutrophils;
  • lung: pulmonary hypertension;
  • edema;
  • lavage;
  • cytokine

Background: Neutrophils, platelets, and cytokines are thought to play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of endotoxin-induced lung injury which resembles features of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). For initiation of this pathological process, neutrophils and platelets are activated and adhere to pulmonary endothelium. Nitric oxide (NO) inhibits adhesion and activation of these cells and decreases the cytokine level in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid obtained from patients with ARDS. Limited data are available on the effect of NO treatment before and after endotoxin on the development and advance of ARDS. The aim of the current study was to determine whether NO inhalation prevents acute lung injury.

Methods: Thirty-two male anaesthetized rabbits were randomly assigned to receive one of four treatments (n=8 each); Group S-N received saline with nitrogen (N2), Group S-NO received saline infusion with NO (20 p.p.m.) inhalation, Group E-N received an infusion of Escherichia coli endotoxin 100 μg/ kg over 60 min with inhalation of N2, and Group E-NO received endotoxin with NO (20 p.p.m.) inhalation. The lungs of the rabbits were ventilated with 40% oxygen until 6 h after the start of endotoxin or saline administration. Haemodynamics and PaO2 were recorded during the ventilation period. After observation, the lung wet-to dry-(W/D) weight ratio, lung mechanics, and. cell fraction, activated complements, cytokines, arachidonic acid metabolites, and albumin concentrations in the BAL fluid were measured and analysed. Light microscopic findings were compared among the four groups.

Results: Pulmonary hypertension and deterioration of oxy-genation by endotoxin were less pronounced in rabbits receiving NO. The lung compliance after endotoxin was similar in Groups E-NO and E-N. The W/D weight ratio and neutrophils and albumin concentrations in the BAL fluid increased in Groups E-NO and E-N. The BAL fluid concentrations of interleukin-8, thromboxane A2, and prostacyclin were similar in the two endotoxin-treated groups. Endotoxin caused extensive morphologic lung damage regardless of NO inhalation.

Conclusions: The increase in pulmonary arterial pressure and deterioration of oxygenation were less in endotoxin-exposed rabbits receiving NO inhalation compared with those receiving N2. Accumulation of neutrophils and platelets in the lung, morphological lung damage, and the release of cytokines and prostanoids were observed in the E-NO group. However, we are unable to extrapolate these results directly to the human clinical setting because of the short observation period, the use of only one dose of NO, and the species difference.