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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2011 Sep 30;178(3):429-38. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2011.04.022. Epub 2011 May 6.

Lung and brainstem cytokine levels are associated with breathing pattern changes in a rodent model of acute lung injury.

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Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, CWRU School of Medicine and University Hospitals Case Medical Center, United States.


Acute lung injury evokes a pulmonary inflammatory response and changes in the breathing pattern. The inflammatory response has a centrally mediated component which depends on the vagi. We hypothesize that the central inflammatory response, complimentary to the pulmonary inflammatory response, is expressed in the nuclei tractus solitarii (nTS) and that the expression of cytokines in the nTS is associated with breathing pattern changes. Adult, male Sprague-Dawley rats (n=12) received intratracheal instillation of either bleomycin (3units in 120μl of saline) or saline (120μl). Respiratory pattern changed by 24h. At 48h, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and lung tissue had increased IL-1β and TNF-α levels, but not IL-6. No changes in these cytokines were noted in serum. Immunocytochemical analysis of the brainstem indicated increased expression of IL-1β in the nTS commissural subnucleus that was localized to neurons. We conclude that breathing pattern changes in acute lung injury were associated with increased levels of IL-1β in brainstem areas which integrate cardio-respiratory sensory input.

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