Background: Pulmonary edema is a hallmark of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Smoke inhalation causes ARDS, thus significantly increasing the mortality of burn patients. Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) exert potent anti-inflammatory properties. The goal of the present study was to test the safety and ecfficacy of ASCs, in a well-characterized clinically relevant ovine model of ARDS. Methods: Female sheep were surgically prepared. ARDS was induced by cooled cotton smoke inhalation. Following injury, sheep were ventilated, resuscitated with lactated Ringer’s solution, and cardiopulmonary hemodynamics were monitored for 48 hours in a conscious state. Pulmonary microvascular hyper-permeability was assessed by measuring lung lymph flow, extravascular lung water content, protein content in plasma and lung lymph fluid. Sheep were randomly allocated to two groups: 1) ASCs: infused with 200 million of ASCs in 200mL of PlasmaLyteA starting 1 hours post-injury, n = 5; 2) control, treated with 200mL of PlasmaLyteA in a similar pattern, n = 5. Results: Lung lymph flow increased 9-fold in control sheep as compared to baseline. Protein in the plasma was significantly decreased, while it was increased in the lung lymph. The treatment with ASCs significantly attenuated these changes. Treatment with ASCs almost led to the reversal of increased pulmonary vascular permeability and lung water content. Pulmonary gas exchange was significantly improved by ASCs. Infusion of the ASCs did not negatively affect pulmonary artery pressure and other hemodynamic variables. Conclusions: ASCs infusion was well tolerated. The results suggest that intravenous ASCs modulate pulmonary microvascular hyper-permeability and prevent the onset of ARDS in our experimental model.
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