Objective: The clinical observation of central bronchial artery hypertrophy in chronic lung inflammation suggests the possibility that the bronchial circulation may also participate in adaptive responses in peripheral lung inflammation.
Methods: To investigate the potential role of the bronchial microcirculation in peripheral lung inflammation, we developed a murine model of lung inflammation using the intratracheal instillation of the peptide-hapten trinitrophenol in presensitized mice.
Results: Clinical parameters indicated a peak inflammatory response at 96 hours. Similarly, gross and microscopic evidence of inflammation was observed 96 hours after antigen instillation. Using a forced oscillation technique to probe peripheral lung mechanics at 96 hours, we detected no change in central airway resistance (P > .05), but a significant increase in peripheral tissue resistance (P < .05). The structure of the bronchial circulation was investigated by microsphere occlusion of the pulmonary circulation and corrosion casting of the bronchial circulation. SEM of the bronchial artery casts demonstrated (1) the presence of the peripheral bronchial circulation in mice, (2) interconnections of the two systems in the distal bronchial arteries and at the level of alveolar capillaries, and (3) functional evidence of increased bronchial perfusion of alveolar capillaries during mononuclear inflammation.
Conclusion: These results suggest an important adaptive role of the bronchial circulation in pulmonary inflammation.