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Pediatr Pulmonol. 1992 Feb;12(2):95-8.

Time course of lipid-laden pulmonary macrophages with acute and recurrent milk aspiration in rabbits.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha 68198-5190.


High levels of lipid-laden macrophages (LLM) in bronchial washings have been associated with food aspiration. We studied the time course of appearance and clearance of LLM in rabbits undergoing either a single milk instillation, five weekly milk instillations or saline (control) instillations into the airways. Cells were obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage of intubated rabbits at uniform time intervals following the single or the last of five milk/saline instillations. LLM semi-quantitative indexes were derived using oil-red-O staining. Significantly elevated indexes were found in both milk groups 6 hr after milk instillation. In the single saline and milk instillation groups the indexes were not different beginning on the 4th day, and indexes from 8 of 9 rabbits had returned to baseline by the 6th day. However, indexes remained significantly elevated up to 17 days in the group receiving weekly milk instillations. Indexes from all rabbits in the repeat milk instillation group remained elevated for 12 days or longer. This group also developed increased numbers of binucleated macrophages. Quantitation of LLM in this model appears to be a sensitive indicator of recurrent lipid aspiration, these cells remaining in the airways for several days after the last aspiration event.

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