JOURNAL ARTICLE

Butyrylcholinesterase in guinea pig lung lavage: a novel biomarker to assess lung injury following inhalation exposure to nerve agent VX

Jacob R Graham, Benjamin S Wright, Peter E Rezk, Richard K Gordon, Alfred M Sciuto, Madhusoodana P Nambiar
Inhalation Toxicology 2006, 18 (7): 493-500
16603480
Respiratory disturbances play a central role in chemical warfare nerve agent (CWNA) induced toxicity; they are the starting point of mass casualty and the major cause of death. We developed a microinstillation technique of inhalation exposure to nerve agent VX and assessed lung injury by biochemical analysis of the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Here we demonstrate that normal guinea pig BALF has a significant amount of cholinesterase activity. Treatment with Huperzine A, a specific inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), showed that a minor fraction of BALF cholinesterase is AChE. Furthermore, treatment with tetraisopropyl pyrophosphoramide (iso-OMPA), a specific inhibitor of butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), inhibited more than 90% of BChE activity, indicating the predominance of BChE in BALF. A predominance of BChE expression in the lung lavage was seen in both genders. Substrate specific inhibition indicated that nearly 30% of the cholinesterase in lung tissue homogenate is AChE. BALF and lung tissue AChE and BChE activities were strongly inhibited in guinea pigs exposed for 5 min to 70.4 and 90.4 microg/m3 VX and allowed to recover for 15 min. In contrast, BALF AChE activity was increased 63% and 128% and BChE activity was increased 77% and 88% after 24 h of recovery following 5 min inhalation exposure to 70.4 microg/m3 and 90.4 mg/m3 VX, respectively. The increase in BALF AChE and BChE activity was dose dependent. Since BChE is synthesized in the liver and present in the plasma, an increase in BALF indicates endothelial barrier injury and leakage of plasma into lung interstitium. Therefore, a measure of increased levels of AChE and BChE in the lung lavage can be used to determine the chronology of barrier damage as well as the extent of lung injury following exposure to chemical warfare nerve agents.

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