Inhalation injury to tracheal epithelium in an ovine model of cotton smoke exposure: Early phase (30 minutes)

S. Abdi, M. J. Evans, R. A. Cox, H. Lubbesmeyer, D. N. Herndon, D. L. Traber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to evaluate lung cell injury during the acute phase of smoke inhalation injury. A group of 10 sheep were anesthetized with halothane and pancuronium followed by endotracheal intubation. In the first experiment 5 sheep were given air (sham group) and 5 were insufflated with cooled cotton smoke with a modified bee smoker. In the second part of our study (Experiment 2) the animals were insufflated with the following number of smoke breaths: 1 x 12 (n = 3); 2 x 12 (n = 4); 3 x 12 (n = 4); 4 x 12 (n = 4); and sham control (n = 1). After 30 min the animals were killed with KCl and the trachea prepared for scanning, transmission electron, and light microscopy. Our initial observation with scanning electron microscopy revealed a large amount of mucus on the surface of the epithelia. Numerous ciliated cells had been sloughed from the epithelium and were observed on the surface of the remaining ciliated cells. The sloughed cells were intact, and the cilia remained on the apical cell surface. Light and transmission electron microscopy revealed that most goblet cells were in the process of extruding mucus. The cytoplasm of goblet and basal cells appeared normal. Ciliated cells had a slightly vesiculated cytoplasm, and many were in the process of being sloughed from the epithelial surface. In these cells desmosomal attachment had been separated. The light microscope evaluation of the tracheal epithelium showed there was no dose-dependent effect between the four treatment groups. Loss of ciliated cells represents the first morphologic indicator of injury to the tracheal epithelium after exposure to smoke, regardless of the smoke dosage used. Sloughing of intact ciliated cells indicates that the smoke had an effect on how they were attached by desmosomes to the epithelium. The mechanisms by which the smoke affects the ciliated cell adhesion is yet to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1436-1439
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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