Paraquat is a weed killer which causes often fatal lung damage in humans and other animals. There is evidence that the pulmonary surfactant system is involved in the pathophysiology of respiratory failure after paraquat intoxication and, therefore, the possible therapeutic effect of intratracheal surfactant administration on gas exchange in rats with progressive lung injury induced by paraquat poisoning was studied. In one group of rats, the time course of the development of lung injury due to paraquat intoxication was characterized. In a second group of rats, 72 h after paraquat intoxication, the animals underwent mechanical ventilation and only those animals in which the arterial oxygen tension/inspiratory oxygen fraction (Pa,O2/FI,O2) decreased to below 20 kPa (150 mmHg) received exogenous surfactant (200 mg x kg(-1) body weight). Within 3 days the rats in group 1 developed progressive respiratory failure, demonstrated not only by impaired gas exchange and lung mechanics but also by increased minimal surface tension and increased protein concentration in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. In group 2, intratracheal surfactant administration increased Pa,O2/FI,O2 significantly within 5 min (14.4+/-2.4 kPa (108+/-18 mmHg)) to (55.2+/-53 kPa (414+/-40 mmHg)) and sustained this level for at least 2 h. It is concluded that intratracheal surfactant administration is a promising approach in the treatment of severe respiratory failure caused by paraquat poisoning.

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The European Respiratory Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

So, K.L, de Buijzer, E, Gommers, D.A.M.P.J, Kaisers, U, van Genderen, P.J.J, & Lachmann, B.F. (1998). Surfactant therapy restores gas exchange in lung injury due to paraquat intoxication in rats. The European Respiratory Journal. Retrieved from