Intratracheal dopamine attenuates pulmonary edema and improves survival after ventilator-induced lung injury in rats

Clearance of alveolar oedema depends on active transport of sodium across the alveolar-epithelial barrier. ├Ä╦ø-Adrenergic agonists increase clearance of pulmonary oedema, but it has not been established whether ├Ä╦ø-agonist stimulation achieves sufficient oedema clearance to improve survival in animals. The objective of this study was to determine whether the increased pulmonary oedema clearance produced by intratracheal dopamine improves the survival of rats after mechanical ventilation with high tidal volume (HVT).

This was a randomized, controlled, experimental study. One hundred and thirty-two Wistar-Kyoto rats, weighing 250 to 300 g, were anaesthetized and cannulated via endotracheal tube. Pulmonary oedema was induced by endotracheal instillation of saline solution and mechanical ventilation with HVT. Two types of experiment were carried out. The first was an analysis of pulmonary oedema conducted in six groups of 10 rats ventilated with low (8 ml/kg) or high (25 ml/kg) tidal volume for 30 or 60 minutes with or without intratracheally instilled dopamine. At the end of the experiment the animals were exsanguinated and pulmonary oedema analysis performed. The second experiment was a survival analysis, which was conducted in two groups of 36 animals ventilated with HVT for 60 minutes with or without intratracheal dopamine; survival of the animals was monitored for up to 7 days after extubation.

In animals ventilated at HVT with or without intratracheal dopamine, oxygen saturation deteriorated over time and was significantly higher at 30 minutes than at 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, a lower wet weight/dry weight ratio was observed in rats ventilated with HVT and instilled with dopamine than in rats ventilated with HVT without dopamine (3.9 ± 0.27 versus 4.9 ± 0.29; P = 0.014). Survival was significantly (P = 0.013) higher in animals receiving intratracheal dopamine and ventilated with HVT, especially at 15 minutes after extubation, when 11 of the 36 animals in the HVT group had died as compared with only one out of the 36 animals in the HVT plus dopamine group.

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