Hypoproteinemia as a marker of acute respiratory distress syndrome in critically ill patients with pulmonary edema
BACKGROUND Aortic surgery is a risk factor for acute lung injury and this may relate to ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) of the lower body and release of inflammatory mediators. The aim of this study was to define the changes in microvascular protein permeability and circulating inflammatory mediators after aortic surgery. METHODS In 11 consecutive patients who underwent elective aortic surgery microvascular permeability in lung and leg was measured before and a median of 2.8 hours after completion of surgery using 111indium (In)-labelled transferrin and 99mtechnetium (Tc)-labelled red blood cells, yielding a protein leak index (PLI) that is specific for protein permeability. Circulating leucocyte counts and levels of inflammatory mediators were determined. RESULTS In the lung the PLI rose from a median of 0.6 (range -0.5 to 2.2) x 10(-3)/min before surgery to 5.4 (-2.3 to 33.5) x 10(-3)/min after surgery, and in the leg from 0.3 (-1.6 to 1.7) x 10(-3)/min to 5.0 (1.0 to 27.8) x 10(-3)/min. The increase in PLI in the lung was related to that in the leg. Levels of activated complement C3a and tumour necrosis factor-alpha did not change, but levels of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8 and elastase-alpha 1-antitrypsin increased. After surgery there was slight neutrophilia and the leucocyte counts were inversely related to the IL-8 level. The rise in lung but not in leg PLI was greatest in patients with the highest IL-8 levels and the lowest leucocyte counts. CONCLUSIONS Early after aortic surgery microvascular protein permeability increases in the leg and lung. Leg I/R injury may result in neutrophil activation and release of IL-8, which may induce neutrophil sequestration and subsequently increased pulmonary microvascular permeability. These findings may help to explain the occurrence of acute lung injury after I/R in man.