Oxidant-antioxidant balance in acute lung injury

Chest. 2002 Dec;122(6 Suppl):314S-320S. doi: 10.1378/chest.122.6_suppl.314s.


ARDS is a disease process that is characterized by diffuse inflammation in the lung parenchyma. The involvement of inflammatory mediators in ARDS has been the subject of intense investigation, and oxidant-mediated tissue injury is likely to be important in the pathogenesis of ARDS. In response to various inflammatory stimuli, lung endothelial cells, alveolar cells, and airway epithelial cells, as well as activated alveolar macrophages, produce both nitric oxide and superoxide, which may react to form peroxynitrite, which can nitrate and oxidize key amino acids in various lung proteins, such as surfactant protein A, and inhibit their functions. The nitration and oxidation of a variety of crucial proteins present in the alveolar space have been shown to be associated with diminished function in vitro and also have been identified ex vivo in proteins sampled from patients with acute lung injury (ALI)/ARDS. Various enzymes and low-molecular-weight scavengers that are present in the lung tissue and alveolar lining fluid decreased the concentration of these toxic species. The purpose of this brief chapter is to review the results from various studies demonstrating increased levels of reactive oxygen-nitrogen intermediates in the alveolar spaces of patients with ALI/ARDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / adverse effects
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / adverse effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / chemically induced*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Nitric Oxide