To determine reciprocal and synergistic effects of acute intracranial hypertension and ARDS on neuronal and pulmonary damage and to define possible mechanisms.
Twenty-eight mechanically ventilated pigs were randomized to four groups of seven each: control; acute intracranial hypertension (AICH); acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS); acute respiratory distress syndrome in combination with acute intracranial hypertension (ARDS + AICH). AICH was induced with an intracranial balloon catheter and the inflation volume was adjusted to keep intracranial pressure (ICP) at 30–40 cmH2O. ARDS was induced by oleic acid infusion. Respiratory function, hemodynamics, extravascular lung water index (ELWI), lung and brain computed tomography (CT) scans, as well as inflammatory mediators, S100B, and neuronal serum enolase (NSE) were measured over a 4-h period. Lung and brain tissue were collected and examined at the end of the experiment.
In both healthy and injured lungs, AICH caused increases in NSE and TNF-alpha plasma concentrations, extravascular lung water, and lung density in CT, the extent of poorly aerated (dystelectatic) and atelectatic lung regions, and an increase in the brain tissue water content. ARDS and AICH in combination induced damage in the hippocampus and decreased density in brain CT.
AICH induces lung injury and also exacerbates pre-existing damage. Increased extravascular lung water is an early marker. ARDS has a detrimental effect on the brain and acts synergistically with intracranial hypertension to cause histological hippocampal damage.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00134-011-2232-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.