The bronchial circulation, as opposed to the pulmonary circulation, is the likely source of the edema and inflammatory cells that contribute to airflow obstruction and airway narrowing associated with asthma and pulmonary edema. The purpose of this study was to understand the mechanism of edema formation and inflammation in airway walls. Therefore, we sought first to determine the normal bronchial venous drainage pathways. In anesthetized, ventilated, open-chest sheep we measured the relative distribution of 51Cr- labeled red blood cells to the right and left ventricles after injection into the bronchial artery (n = 7). Using this information, we then studied the kinetics of leukocytes in the bronchial vascular bed. We measured the extraction of 111In-labeled neutrophils during their first pass through the microvasculature after injection into the bronchial artery or right ventricle (n = 6). In the first set of experiments, we found >85% of the systemic blood flow to the lung returns to the left ventricle. In the second set of experiments, we found that extraction of neutrophils in the bronchial vasculature (50-60%) was less (P < 0.05) than that in the pulmonary vasculature (80%). This finding may he explained by differences in the anatomy and/or hydrodynamic dispersal forces between the pulmonary and bronchial vascular beds or may reflect sequestration of neutrophils within the pulmonary microvasculature while traversing bronchial-to-pulmonary anastomotic pathways.
- bronchial venous drainage
- bronchial-to-pulmonary anastomoses
- neutrophil extraction
- pulmonary vasculature