Effects of hyperoxia on bronchial wall dimensions and lung mechanics in rats

P Murchie, P W Johnston, J A Ross, D J Godden

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The effects of exposure to hyperoxic conditions (> 95 kPa at normobaric pressure) on bronchial wall dimensions and lung mechanics were examined in adult rats. Measurements of baseline pulmonary resistance and changes in pulmonary resistance following acetylcholine aerosol inhalation were made in rats exposed to hyperoxia for 48 and 60 h and in control rats exposed to air. Exposures for 48 h were carried out in humid (80% relative humidity) or dry (35-40% relative humidity) conditions. Morphometric measurements of airway wall thickness in lobar bronchi were made in separate groups of similarly exposed rats. Exposure to hyperoxia was associated with an increase in baseline pulmonary resistance (control rats 0.043 (0.016) cmH2O ml-1 s-1, 60 h exposed rats 0.125 (0.042) cmH2O ml-1 s-1) but hyper-responsiveness to acetylcholine inhalation did not occur. Thickness of the airway wall and its subdivisions, epithelium, lamina propria and muscularis, was not altered by hyperoxic exposure in humid conditions. However, epithelial thickening in the lobar bronchi was observed in rats exposed for 48 h to hyperoxia in dry conditions compared to rats exposed in humid conditions (mean (SD) thickness 13.2 (3.3) microns for controls, 14.5 (1.5) microns for humid exposed rats and 16.5 (3.3) microns for dry exposed rats). The increase in pulmonary resistance caused by hyperoxic exposure is unlikely to be due to airway damage as airway hyper-responsiveness did not occur, and is more likely to be associated with the development of alveolar oedema. Environmental humidity may modulate lung damage induced by hyperoxia, as exposure in dry conditions was associated with significant epithelial thickening.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-70
Number of pages8
JournalActa Physiologica Scandinavica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • Acetylcholine
  • Aerosols
  • Airway Resistance
  • Animals
  • Bronchi
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Lung
  • Male
  • Oxygen
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors


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