Impact of inflammation, emphysema, and smoking cessation on V/Q in mouse models of lung obstruction
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BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is known to greatly affect ventilation (V) and perfusion (Q) of the lung through pathologies such as inflammation and emphysema. However, there is little direct evidence regarding how these pathologies contribute to the V/Q mismatch observed in COPD and models thereof. Also, little is known regarding how smoking cessation affects V/Q relationships after inflammation and airspace enlargement have become established. To this end, we have quantified V/Q on a per-voxel basis using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) in mouse models of COPD and lung obstruction. METHODS: Three distinct murine models were used to investigate the impact of different pathologies on V/Q, as measured by SPECT. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was used to produce neutrophilic inflammation, porcine pancreatic elastase (PPE) was used to produce emphysema, and long-term cigarette smoke (CS) exposure and cessation were used to investigate the combination of these pathologies. RESULTS: CS exposure resulted in an increase in mononuclear cells and neutrophils, an increase in airspace enlargement, and an increase in V/Q mismatching. The inflammation produced by LPS was more robust and predominantly neutrophilic, compared to that of cigarette smoke; nevertheless, inflammation alone caused V/Q mismatching similar to that seen with long-term CS exposure. The emphysematous lesions caused by PPE administration were also capable of causing V/Q mismatch in the absence of inflammation. Following CS cessation, inflammatory cell levels returned to those of controls and, similarly, V/Q measures returned to normal despite evidence of persistent mild airspace enlargement. CONCLUSIONS: Both robust inflammation and extensive airspace enlargement, on their own, were capable of producing V/Q mismatch. As CS cessation resulted in a return of V/Q mismatching and inflammatory cell counts to control levels, lung inflammation is likely a major contributor to V/Q mismatch observed in the cigarette smoke exposure model as well as in COPD patients. This return of V/Q mismatching to control values also took place in the presence of mild airspace enlargement, indicating that emphysematous lesions must be of a larger volume before affecting the lung significantly. Early smoking cessation is therefore critical before emphysema has an irreversible impact on gas exchange.
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