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Eur Respir J. 1992 Sep;5(8):992-6.

Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) inhalation in healthy subjects increases neutrophils, lymphocytes and fibronectin levels in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.

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  • 1Dept of Lung Medicine, University Hospital of Umeå, Sweden.


Bacterial endotoxin has been suggested as responsible for the development of subjective symptoms and transient or chronic lung function impairment seen after exposure to organic dusts in cotton mills, poultry houses, swine confinement buildings and saw mills. Animal experiments have demonstrated bronchoalveolar neutrophilia being the most prominent cell response in animals following bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) inhalation. The present study was conducted to obtain information on some aspects of the early inflammatory response to inhaled LPS in man. Eight healthy nonsmoking subjects, 23-27 yrs old, underwent bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), 3 h after a provocation test with 100 micrograms LPS from E. coli dissolved in 2 ml isotonic NaCl. The solution was aerosolized with a jet nebulizer and inhaled. The calculated dose delivered to the lung was approximately 25 micrograms, which equals exposure in some occupational settings. The BAL data for each individual subject were compared with data from a control BAL performed at least 6 weeks prior to the LPS challenge. The major cellular response to LPS, reflected in BAL fluid, was an approximately hundredfold increase in neutrophils. The total number of lymphocytes was on average tripled. The alveolar macrophage phagocytosis of opsonized yeast particles in vitro was significantly reduced. A further indicator of an ongoing inflammation was an increase in fibronectin. No changes were seen in the levels of BAL albumin, indicating that the elevated level of fibronectin could not be explained by an increased permeability, but rather by a local production. The results correspond with data from animal studies and further supports the hypothesis that bacterial LPS is important in the pulmonary reaction induced by organic dusts.

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