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Carbon monoxide protects lung cells against oxygen-induced damage

cells incubated in hyperoxic media without CO died within 72 hours--compared to about 25 percent of the CO-treated cells--and they produced high levels of apoptotic molecules.

According to the investigators, these results suggest that CO may expand the currently limited therapeutic options for treating ARDS.

"Giving ARDS patients almost pure oxygen over a prolonged period may be a double-edged sword," said lead investigator Augustine Choi, M.D., professor of medicine and the chief of the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "It saves their life in the short term, but long-term exposure appears to cause significant damage to many cell types including the epithelial and endothelial cells of the lung. However, by administering oxygen mixed with a very small amount of carbon monoxide, we may be able to significantly reduce such oxygen-associated damage and cell death."

Although high concentrations of carbon monoxide are toxic, Dr. Choi's laboratory and others have demonstrated that CO can be therapeutic at very low concentrations. Last year, Dr. Choi's group conducted a study with researchers at the National Institutes of Health, which demonstrated that administering small amounts of inhaled CO to normal individuals was not damaging to their health. They now are preparing to submit an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test whether CO administered to human patients with ARDS is beneficial.


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Contact: Jim Swyers
SwyersJP@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
18-Jan-2007


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