BACKGROUND - Activation of coagulation by expression of tissue factor (TF) in the airspace is a hallmark of acute lung injury (ALI) but the timing of TF activation in relationship to increases in lung permeability and inflammation are unknown.
METHODS - To test the hypothesis that TF is upregulated early in the course of acute bleomycin lung injury and precedes increased permeability and inflammation we studied the early course of bleomycin-induced ALI in mice. Mice were treated with 0.04U intratracheal bleomycin or vehicle control and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and lung tissue were collected daily for 7 days. Whole lung TF mRNA was determined by QT-PCR. TF protein was assessed by ELISA and immunostaining. BAL procoagulant activity was measured by BAL clot time and thrombin-antithrombin complexes. Inflammation was assessed by BAL cell count, differentials and CXCL1/KC concentration. Lung permeability was assessed by BAL protein and lung wet to dry weight ratio.
RESULTS - Expression of CXCL1 occurred by day 1. BAL protein and lung wet-to-dry weight ratio increased significantly by day 3. TF mRNA and BAL procoagulant activity peaked on day 4 while whole lung TF protein peaked on day 6. Changes in permeability and procoagulant activity preceded inflammatory cell influx which was maximal at day 6 while whole lung TF protein peaked along with inflammation.
CONCLUSION - These data demonstrate that cytokine upregulation is the earliest response to bleomycin administration, followed by increased lung permeability, upregulation of TF, and recruitment of inflammatory cells.