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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Mar;159(3):980-8.

Alveolar epithelial fluid transport capacity in reperfusion lung injury after lung transplantation.

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Cardiovascular Research Institute, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Departments of Medicine, Pathology, and the Heart Lung Transplantation Program, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.


Reperfusion lung injury is an important cause of morbidity and mortality after orthotopic lung transplantation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the function of the alveolar epithelium in the setting of reperfusion lung injury. Simultaneous samples of pulmonary edema fluid and plasma were collected from eight patients with severe post-transplantation reperfusion edema. The edema fluid to plasma protein ratio was measured, an indicator of alveolar-capillary barrier permeability. The initial edema fluid to plasma protein ratio was > 0.75 in six of eight patients, confirming the presence of increased permeability of the alveolar-capillary barrier. Graft ischemic time was positively correlated with the degree of permeability (r = 0.77, p < 0.05). In four of six patients with serial samples, there was a high rate of alveolar fluid clearance (19 +/- 9%/h, mean +/- SD). Alveolar fluid clearance was calculated from serial samples in six patients. Intact alveolar fluid clearance correlated with less histologic injury, rapid resolution of hypoxemia, and more rapid resolution of radiographic infiltrates. The two patients with no net alveolar fluid clearance had persistent hypoxemia and more severe histologic injury. This study provides the first direct evidence that increased permeability to protein is the usual cause of reperfusion edema after lung transplantation, with longer ischemic times associated with greater permeability to protein in the transplanted lung. The high rates of alveolar fluid clearance indicate that the fluid transport capacity of the alveolar epithelium may be well preserved in the allograft despite reperfusion lung injury. The ability to reabsorb fluid from the alveolar space was a marker of less severe reperfusion injury, whereas the degree of alveolar-capillary barrier permeability to protein was not. Measurement of alveolar fluid clearance may be useful to assess the severity of reperfusion lung injury and to predict outcome when pulmonary edema develops after lung transplantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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