The adult respiratory distress syndrome is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in critical care patients. Lung injury in this syndrome is frequently associated with lung infection. The combined insults result in an influx of neutrophils and damage to the pulmonary epithelium. We investigated whether active neutrophil elastolytic activity was present in the bronchoalveolar fluid in baboons with mild or moderate hyperoxic lung injury and infection. Group A (N=7) was exposed for 6 days to FIO2=0.8 and then inoculated by intratracheal bolus with Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain DGI-R130 (PA); the FIO2 was reduced to 0.5. Group B (N=6) was exposed to similar concentrations of inspired oxygen but inoculated with buffered saline. Antibiotics included parenteral penicillin and topical gentamicin and polymyxin B. All 3 were given continuously in group B but stopped 24 h prior to PA inoculation in group A. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid was collected 1 week before oxygen administration, when the FIO2 was reduced (day 6 or 7) and prior to necropsy (day 11). Hemodynamic, pulmonary function, microbiological, and biochemical variables were studied. Injured, infected animals (group A) had significant elevations of mean pulmonary artery pressure and decreases in total lung capacity and PaO2 compared both to baseline and to group B at day 11. At autopsy, group A had significant increases of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) neutrophils and bacterial pathogens. Elastase levels in BALF (equal to 0 at baseline) rose to 136±98 ng/ml in group A vs. 6±14 ng/ml in group B. The elastase was inhibited by inhibitors of serine proteases including ones specific for neutrophil elastase. On Sephacryl S-300 chromatography the elastase activity eluted near human α 2-macroglobulin and separated from other proteolytic activity. These studies demonstrate a significant level of elastase in BALF from injured, infected baboons compared to injured, uninfected animals.
- Acute lung injury
- Bronchoalveolar lavage
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine