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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Critical Care and Emergency Medicine - Immunology - Respiratory Medicine

Pre-Treatment with Allopurinol or Uricase Attenuates Barrier Dysfunction but Not Inflammation during Murine Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Author: Maria T. Kuipers et al.

by Maria T. Kuipers, Hamid Aslami, Alexander P. J. Vlaar, Nicole P. Juffermans, Anita M. Tuip-de Boer, Maria A. Hegeman, Geartsje Jongsma, Joris J. T. H. Roelofs, Tom van der Poll, Marcus J. Schultz, Catharina W. Wieland


Uric acid released from injured tissue is considered a major endogenous danger signal and local instillation of uric acid crystals induces acute lung inflammation via activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI) is mediated by the NLRP3 inflammasome and increased uric acid levels in lung lavage fluid are reported. We studied levels in human lung injury and the contribution of uric acid in experimental VILI.


Uric acid levels in lung lavage fluid of patients with acute lung injury (ALI) were determined. In a different cohort of cardiac surgery patients, uric acid levels were correlated with pulmonary leakage index. In a mouse model of VILI the effect of allopurinol (inhibits uric acid synthesis) and uricase (degrades uric acid) pre-treatment on neutrophil influx, up-regulation of adhesion molecules, pulmonary and systemic cytokine levels, lung pathology, and regulation of receptors involved in the recognition of uric acid was studied. In addition, total protein and immunoglobulin M in lung lavage fluid and pulmonary wet/dry ratios were measured as markers of alveolar barrier dysfunction.


Uric acid levels increased in ALI patients. In cardiac surgery patients, elevated levels correlated significantly with the pulmonary leakage index. Allopurinol or uricase treatment did not reduce ventilator-induced inflammation, I?B-a degradation, or up-regulation of NLRP3, Toll-like receptor 2, and Toll-like receptor 4 gene expression in mice. Alveolar barrier dysfunction was attenuated which was most pronounced in mice pre-treated with allopurinol: both treatment strategies reduced wet/dry ratio, allopurinol also lowered total protein and immunoglobulin M levels.


Local uric acid levels increase in patients with ALI. In mice, allopurinol and uricase attenuate ventilator-induced alveolar barrier dysfunction.