Airway blood flow distribution and lung edema after histamine infusion in awake sheep

G. C. Kramer, D. C. Lindsey, C. H. Wu, S. Mertens, L. A. Russell, C. E. Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The present study was designed to evaluate the distribution of bronchial blood flow to major airways and peripheral lung and to quantitate lung edema during a 2-h histamine infusion (2 μg·kg-1·min-1) in unanesthetized sheep. By the use of radioactive microspheres, the blood flow to trachea and to tracheal cartilage, smooth muscle, and mucosa/submucosa was determined along with measurements of blood flow to different sized airway segments and the systemic blood flow to lung parenchyma. Histamine greatly increased blood flow to medium-sized (5- to 10-mm-diam) central airways in which blood flow increased 5-10 times base line, whereas in small (1- to 5-mm-diam) central airways the increase was 10-15 times. Blood flow in tracheal mucosa/submucosa increased six times base line, but in tracheal smooth muscle the increase was only three times base line, and in cartilage it remained at base line. Most of the systemic blood flow to the lung perfuses <1-mm-diam peripheral airways, and these airways demonstrated less vasodilation during histamine infusion. Mean blood flow to whole-lung parenchyma (whole lung minus trachea) was only two times base line during histamine infusion. Water content of trachea and main stem bronchi was significantly increased after histamine. Histopathologic findings after histamine infusions included congestion and edema of airways with only minor effects noted in alveoli. We conclude that histamine is a potent and selective vasodilator of bronchial vessels and particularly affects blood flow to central airways and to airway mucosal/submucosa. Our studies support the hypothesis that the bronchial circulation is a likely source of the histamine-induced pulmonary edema in sheep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1847-1854
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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