1. The effect in the rat of salbutamol infusion (1 μg min−1 kg−1) on acid-induced lung injury has been determined. Severity of lung injury was assessed by two techniques: the pulmonary clearance of 99mTc-diethylenetriaminepenta-acetate (99mTc-DTPA) and the lung wet/dry weight ratio, giving indices of alveolar epithelial permeability and transendothelial water filtration respectively.

2. Mean half-time of clearance of 99mTc-DTPA was increased significantly in rats who had intratracheal acid-induced injury and control (saline) intravenous infusion (19.4 ± 2.6 min) compared with non-acid-treated rats (98.1 ± 7.2) (P < 0.0001). However, those animals who had intratracheal acid injury and subsequent salbutamol intravenous infusion had significantly faster clearance (11.5 ± 1.9) than the acid and control infusion group (P < 0.05).

3. Gravimetric lung water in the acid-only rats (expressed as wet/dry weight ratio) was increased significantly (6.4 ± 0.3) compared with the non-acid-treated controls (5.4 ± 0.2) (P < 0.01). Acid-treated rats who had salbutamol infused had dramatically increased lung water (10.0 ± 0.6) (P < 0.001 vs acid and control infusion).

4. Intravenous salbutamol infusion itself produced no significant difference in the results for both techniques, compared with the non-acid-treated time-course controls.

5. Infused salbutamol accentuates acid-induced lung injury in the rat. Possible factors responsible for these findings include β2-adrenergic agonist mediated inhibition of hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) and a predominant β1-adrenergic agonist inotropic effect of salbutamol with resultant rise in pulmonary artery pressure.

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