Bleomycin is a commonly used antineoplastic agent which produces dose- and time-dependent pneumonitis and fibrosis in humans. The mechanism of bleomycin-induced lung injury is uncertain. However, current data shows that bleomycin can generate reactive oxygen species such as Superoxide and hydroxyl radicals. We therefore investigated whether intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of endotoxin, a protectant for hyperoxia, could modulate the biochemical and morphological estimates of bleomycininduced lung fibrosis in rats. However, pretreatment with multiple i.p. injections of endotoxin, combined with intratracheal bleomycin instillation, resulted in increased lung collagen content compared to bleomycin treatment alone and controls. Furthermore, morphological estimates of the severity of lung lesions present in the endotoxin-bleomycin treatment group were increased when compared with saline and endotoxin control lung lesions. These data indicate, in the current study design, that endotoxin did not reduce, but instead increased the severity of bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in rats. The mechanism for this increase in fibrosis may be the result of pre-existing endotoxin-induced cell injury.
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