Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Lessons from Lungs
06 November 2012

Lessons from Lungs

After a lung injury or severe lung infection, some patients suffer a condition known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – where the lungs become inflamed and unable to obtain sufficient oxygen. Such patients are given an air supply containing 60 percent oxygen, much higher than the 20 percent present in normal air. But while this oxygenation therapy is life-saving initially, it can sometimes worsen the problem. New research shows that high oxygen levels actually induce more inflammation, which further damages the lungs. The image above shows healthy mouse lung tissue exposed to normal air, on the left, and the inflammation caused by exposure to 100% oxygen, on the right. However, the good news is that if mice are given an anti-inflammatory treatment in addition to high oxygen, inflammation is reduced significantly. This suggests a similar combination therapy might be the best approach for patients with ARDS.

Written by Ruth Williams

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