Changes in lung structure and collagen metabolism were studied at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 weeks in a model of pulmonary fibrosis induced in rats with paraquat plus hyperoxia. Morphologic examination of the lungs revealed that the earliest lesions consisted of severe and irreversible endothelial and alveolar epithelial cell damage. Afterward, an inflammatory process took place, initially dominated by polymorphonuclear leukocytes and then by mononuclear cells, but with the constant presence of granulocytes. From the fourth week on there were fibroblast proliferation and a moderate increase of mast cells. In the early stages alveolitis was focal, but from the second week the lungs were diffusely affected with severe distortion of the architecture. Collagen content was moderately increased in the first 2 weeks and then showed a progressive increment until the end of the experiment. Collagen synthesis was significantly elevated from the fourth week, coinciding with interstitial fibroblast proliferation, although there were some animals that showed increased collagen production from the first week. Collagenolytic activity occurred in 3 stages: at 2 weeks there was increased collagen degradation, at 3, 4, and 6 weeks the values showed a trimodal behavior, and at 8 weeks almost all experimental rats presented an important decrease of collagenolysis. Thus, the development of lung fibrosis was associated first with increased rates of collagen synthesis and later with a decrease of collagen degradation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Biochemistry