PEEP is necessary for exogenous surfactant to reduce pulmonary edema in canine aspiration pneumonitis

A. R. Zucker*, B. A. Holm, G. P. Crawford, K. Ridge, L. D H Wood, J. I. Sznajder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Alveolar edema inactivates surfactant, and surfactant depletion causes edema by reducing lung interstitial pressure (Pis). We reasoned that surfactant repletion might reduce edema by raising Pis after acute lung injury and that positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) might facilitate this effect. One hour after tracheal administration of hydrochloric acid in 18 anesthetized dogs with transmural pulmonary capillary wedge pressure of 8 Torr, the animals were randomized into three groups: in the SURF+PEEP group, 50 mg/kg of calf lung surfactant extract (CLSE) was instilled into each main stem bronchus with 8 cmH2O of PEEP; in the SAL+PEEP group, PEEP was followed by an equal volume of saline (SAL); in the SURF group, CLSE was given without PEEP. After 5 h, edema in excised lungs (wet-to-dry weight ratios) was significantly less in the SURF+PEEP group (9.1 ± 1.0) than in the other groups (11.3 ± 1.8 and 11.3 ± 1.8, respectively). In the SURF+PEEP group, pulmonary venous admixture fell by 6%; this change was different from the 7% increase in the SAL+PEEP group and 40% increase in the SURF group (P < 0.05). Airway secretions obtained in the SURF+PEEP group had normal minimum surface tensions of 4 ± 2 mN/m, a value much lower than in SAL+PEEP and SURF groups (32 ± 4 and 22 ± 7 mN/m, respectively). We conclude that surfactant normalizes surface tension and decreases transcapillary hydrostatic forces in this lung injury model, thereby reducing edema formation and improving gas exchange. These benefits occur only if surfactant is given with PEEP, allowing surfactant access to the alveoli and/or minimizing its inhibition by edema proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-686
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992


  • acute hypoxemic respiratory failure
  • edema
  • positive end-expiratory pressure
  • surfactant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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