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Crit Care. 2012 Dec 12;16(2):R55. doi: 10.1186/cc11298.

GABA receptor ameliorates ventilator-induced lung injury in rats by improving alveolar fluid clearance.

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  • 1Lundberg-Kienlen Lung Biology and Toxicology Laboratory, Department of Physiological Sciences, Oklahoma State University, 264 McElroy Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.



Mechanical ventilators are increasingly used in critical care units. However, they can cause lung injury, including pulmonary edema. Our previous studies indicated that γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors are involved in alveolar-fluid homeostasis. The present study investigated the role of GABA receptors in ventilator-induced lung injury.


Adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to high-tidal-volume ventilation of 40 ml/kg body weight for 1 hour, and lung injuries were assessed.


High-tidal-volume ventilation resulted in lung injury, as indicated by an increase in total protein in bronchoalveolar fluid, wet-to-dry ratio (indication of pulmonary edema), and Evans Blue dye extravasation (indication of vascular damage). Intratracheal administration of GABA before ventilation significantly reduced the wet-to-dry ratio. Further, histopathologic analysis indicated that GABA reduced ventilator-induced lung injury and apoptosis. GABA-mediated reduction was effectively blocked by the GABAA-receptor antagonist, bicuculline. The GABA-mediated effect was not due to the vascular damage, because no differences in Evans Blue dye extravasation were noted. However, the decrease in alveolar fluid clearance by high-tidal-volume ventilation was partly prevented by GABA, which was blocked by bicuculline.


These results suggest that GABA reduces pulmonary edema induced by high-tidal-volume ventilation via its effects on alveolar fluid clearance and apoptosis.

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