The induction of pulmonary emphysema with human leukocyte elastase

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1977 Sep;116(3):469-75. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1977.116.3.469.


Purified human leukocyte elastase was injected into the tracheas of 46 hamsters. Thirteen animals died spontaneously within 1 week, with extensive lung hemorrhage. The elastin content of the lungs was only slightly less than control values 3 hours after injection. At 2 months, the lungs of the remaining animals showed mild, patchy emphysema and morphometric changes consistent with emphysema. These results contrasted with the effects of a similar elastolytic dose of pancreatic elastase administered to 26 other hamsters in that only one animal died spontaneously, the lung elastin content 3 hours after injection was substantially decreased, and severe emphysema was present 2 months later. Leukocyte elastase appears to be capable of causing emphysema; but unlike pancreatic elastase, leukocyte elastase produces emphysema that is mild, even at a dose sufficient to produce intense lung hemorrhage and a high mortality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cricetinae
  • Elastin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / enzymology*
  • Lung / analysis
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / pathology
  • Pancreatic Elastase* / administration & dosage
  • Pancreatic Elastase* / blood
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / chemically induced*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / pathology


  • Elastin
  • Pancreatic Elastase