Clinical Research

Rapid improvement in abnormal pulmonary epithelial permeability after stopping cigarettes

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 11 April 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:1183
  1. Barbara D Minty,
  2. C Jordan,
  3. J G Jones


    A new, non-invasive method of measuring pulmonary epithelial damage in man was compared with traditional tests of small-airway function. Pulmonary epithelial permeability was expressed as the half-time clearance from the lung into blood of 99mTc-diethylene triaminepenta-acetic acid (99mTc-DTPA) deposited predominantly in the alveoli from an inhaled aerosol.

    Recovery from abnormal pulmonary permeability was recorded after stopping smoking for 21 days in a group of young symptomless cigarette smokers. Before stopping smoking there was a significant correlation between half-time lung clearance of 99mTc-DTPA and carboxyhaemoglobin concentration (r=0·69; p <0·05). There was no correlation between carboxyhaemoglobin value and closing volume, the only other abnormal test of airway function. Twenty-four hours after stopping smoking the mean half-time lung clearance of 99mTc-DTPA had increased significantly (p <0·001) from a baseline of 15·8 min (SEM 1·3 min) to 25·5 min (SEM 2·5 min). The mean half-time clearance continued to increase to a maximum of 35·5 min (SEM 3·1 min) at seven days, but was significantly less than the reported half-time clearance for non-smokers (59 min, SEM

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