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Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Nov;30(11):1795-803. doi: 10.1177/0960327111400104. Epub 2011 Feb 21.

Acute pulmonary toxic effects of chlorhexidine (CHX) following an intratracheal instillation in rats.

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Key Laboratory of Environmental Medicine and Engineering, Ministry of Education, Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biomaterials and Devices, School of Public Health, Southeast University, Nanjing, China.


Chlorhexidine (CHX) is a cationic biguanide compound that has been widely used for disinfection of skin, mucous membranes, and medical instruments. Poisoning has been occurred occasionally due to its easy accessibility. Some fatal cases developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) from aspiration of CHX directly into the lung. There is no preclinical information about the pulmonary toxicity of CHX available since the products of CHX are usually developed for disinfection by topical use. In this study, the acute pulmonary toxic effects of CHX following an intratracheal instillation in rats were investigated. Rats were exposed either to CHX at concentrations of 0.02% and 0.2% or to distilled water at a volume of 500 μl/kg b.w. CHX at concentration of 0.2% caused changes in hematological and biochemical values including white blood cell count (WBC), total protein (TP), albumin (ALB), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine (CRE), and induced inflammatory reactions including intra-alveolar edema and hemorrhages, as well as resulted in the target organ concentration in lungs at the level of about 1.0 μg/g and maintained for more than 1 week, when administered intratracheally in rats. The cytotoxic action of CHX might induce those detrimental reactions in rats.

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