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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1990 May;141(5 Pt 1):1167-71.

Rapid clearance of xanthines from airway and pulmonary tissues.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.


The airway and pulmonary fate of two antiasthma xanthines was examined in a guinea pig perfused lung preparation where the airway mechanics and airway microvascular perfusion are maintained at near normal values. 14C-theophylline or 14C-enprofylline was infused for 10, 30, and 300 s into the pulmonary artery of the guinea pig isolated lung. The radioactivity increased rapidly (within 10 s) in tracheobronchial as well as in lung tissue, confirming that the large airway microcirculation was well supplied also by the perfusion. The effluent concentrations of total 3H and 14C radioactivity at the onset, during, and after intrapulmonary infusion of 14C-labeled xanthines and 3H-sucrose were closely associated, suggesting that the xanthines, like sucrose, largely distributed in extracellular fluid and were not taken up by the tissues. No metabolites of enprofylline or theophylline could be detected in the lung tissue or lung effluent, suggesting that xanthines are not biotransformed by the guinea pig lung. After intratracheal instillation of 14C-theophylline, the peak radioactivity in the lung effluent appeared in the second 15-s fraction after instillation, and after 10 and 60 min, 68.1 +/- 4.7% and 86.9 +/- 8.4%, respectively, of the given dose had appeared in the lung effluent. The present data suggest a mainly extracellular distribution and a rapid clearance of xanthines from the lung and airway tissues. The rapid disappearance of topical theophylline may explain the lack of success of inhalation therapy with this drug.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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