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GABA receptor ameliorates ventilator-induced lung injury in rats by improving alveolar fluid clearance

Narendranath Reddy Chintagari and Lin Liu*

Author Affiliations

Lundberg-Kienlen Lung Biology and Toxicology Laboratory, Department of Physiological Sciences, Oklahoma State University, 264 McElroy Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA

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Critical Care 2012, 16:R55  doi:10.1186/cc11298

Published: 5 April 2012



Mechanical ventilators are increasingly used in critical care units. However, they can cause lung injury, including pulmonary edema. Our previous studies indicated that γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors are involved in alveolar-fluid homeostasis. The present study investigated the role of GABA receptors in ventilator-induced lung injury.


Adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to high-tidal-volume ventilation of 40 ml/kg body weight for 1 hour, and lung injuries were assessed.


High-tidal-volume ventilation resulted in lung injury, as indicated by an increase in total protein in bronchoalveolar fluid, wet-to-dry ratio (indication of pulmonary edema), and Evans Blue dye extravasation (indication of vascular damage). Intratracheal administration of GABA before ventilation significantly reduced the wet-to-dry ratio. Further, histopathologic analysis indicated that GABA reduced ventilator-induced lung injury and apoptosis. GABA-mediated reduction was effectively blocked by the GABAA-receptor antagonist, bicuculline. The GABA-mediated effect was not due to the vascular damage, because no differences in Evans Blue dye extravasation were noted. However, the decrease in alveolar fluid clearance by high-tidal-volume ventilation was partly prevented by GABA, which was blocked by bicuculline.


These results suggest that GABA reduces pulmonary edema induced by high-tidal-volume ventilation via its effects on alveolar fluid clearance and apoptosis.