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Eur J Pharmacol. 1999 Jun 18;374(2):241-7.

Bronchopulmonary inflammation and airway smooth muscle hyperresponsiveness induced by nitrogen dioxide in guinea pigs.

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Research Centre on Asthma and COPD, Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Ferrara, Italy.


We investigated whether acute exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) causes major inflammatory responses (inflammatory cell recruitment, oedema and smooth muscle hyperresponsiveness) in guinea pig airways. Anaesthetised guinea pigs were exposed to 18 ppm NO2 or air for 4 h through a tracheal cannula. Bronchoalveolar lavage was performed and airway microvascular permeability and in vitro bronchial smooth muscle responsiveness were measured. Exposure to NO2 induced a significant increase in eosinophils and neutrophils in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, microvascular leakage in the trachea and main bronchi (but not in peripheral airways), and a significant in vitro hyperresponsiveness to acetylcholine, electrical field stimulation, and neurokinin A, but not to histamine. Thus, this study shows that in vivo exposure to high concentrations of NO2 induces major inflammatory responses in guinea pig airways that mimic acute bronchitis induced by exposure to irritant gases in man.

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