Experimental paraquat poisoning - histological, electron microscopic and autoradiographic changes in the lung
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Paraquat is a potent and widely used herbicide which acts as a specific pulmonary toxin and causes lung fibrosis in man and animals. Some controversy still exists concerning the details of the morphogenesis of the pulmonary lesions. The lungs of rats exposed to intravenous injections of paraquat and sacrificed 6 - 24 days later were examined by light and electron microscopy. Autoradiography was used to detect possible paraquat accumulation in the lung 5 hours after a single intravenous injection. The findings on microscopy suggested an acute phase of damage to alveolar lining epithelium followed by epithelial regeneration. The most pronounced light and electron microscopic findings were: (1) signs of disruption of the alveolar wall; (ii) type II alveolar epithelial hyperplasia; (iii) mobilization of mononuclear cells, and (iv) migration and accumulation of fibroblast-like cells in the intra-alveolar and interstitial spaces. After three equally spaced intravenous injections of paraquat signs of interstitial connective tissue proliferation could be seen. Autoradiography showed low-grade radioactivity over the alveolar wall, indicating possible active uptake of paraquat by alveolar epithelium; this coincides with in vitro evidence of an active transport mechanism for paraquat by alveolar epithelial cells.
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