Background and objectives: Endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoconstrictor peptide produced by endothelial cells, has been implicated in the dysfunction of various organs. To determine the role of ET-1 in acute lung injury (ALI) and ARDS, ET-1 levels were measured in epithelial lining fluid (ELF) and plasma obtained from patients with ALI/ARDS. Methods: A cross-sectional study of patients with ALI/ARDS in the intensive care unit of two university hospitals was performed. Patients with ALI/ARDS underwent bronchoscopic microsampling to collect ELF on the day of onset of the disease. Patients who underwent bronchoscopy to examine a small peripheral pulmonary nodule served as controls. Results: In the 23 patients with ALI/ARDS, the ET-1 level in ELF was significantly greater than that in plasma (P < 0.001). In contrast, ET-1 was not detectable in the ELF from six of the seven control subjects. The albumin concentration of ELF, used as a marker of endothelial and epithelial permeability, correlated with the ET-1 level in ELF (P < 0.001). The oxygenation index (PaO2/FiO2) was also correlated with ET-1 concentration in ELF (P < 0.001). Conclusion: In patients with ALI/ARDS, ET-1 is produced mainly in the lung and is associated not only with pulmonary vasoconstriction but also the development of permeability oedema, leading to the impairment of oxygenation.
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