Research performed at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has revealed that oxygen therapy aimed at helping mice with acute lung inflammation breathe paradoxically worsened their illness. The researchers say excess oxygen appears to thwart a natural process that limits lung tissue damage. They overcame this deleterious side effect, however, by adding an inhaled anti-inflammatory drug to the oxygen therapy.
"This research illustrates, in an animal model, a delicate balance between supplemental oxygen therapy and an innate tissue-preserving process that appears to operate best in low-oxygen conditions," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
Michail Sitkovsky, Ph.D., senior author of the paper published this week in the journal PLoS Biology, believes the findings could have clinical implications. Supplemental oxygen is a life-saving therapy for patients with breathing problems, but it can harm the lungs if it is used for long periods. While the problem of oxygen-induced lung damage is well known, the biochemical processes leading to this damage have not been fully explained. Dr. Sitkovskys research reveals a possible mechanism behind this oxygen-induced damage and also provides evidence of a simple way to prevent it.
Anne A. Oplinger | EurekAlert!
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