The purpose of this study was to determine whether the absorption of inhaled antigen (Ag) across the pulmonary air-blood barrier of the isolated perfused lung can be modulated by immunologic mechanisms. Lungs from immunized or nonimmunized rabbits were removed, ventilated, and perfused with autochthonous blood. Radioiodinated Ag (human serum albumin or ovalbumin) was introduced as an aerosol into the isolated lung for 15 min and blood samples were taken over a 4-h period. The results showed that radioactivity fom inhaled Ag entered the perfusing blood as two fractions. One fraction was precipitable by 5% trichloroacetic acid or antiserum. The TCA-soluble fraction chromatographed differently from iodide and may have represented metabolites of the Ag. Immunization specifically reduced the amount of antigenically intact protein entering the blood. On the other hand, the metabolite reached higher concentrations in the blood of immunized lungs. We conclude that the alveolar capillary barrier of the normal rabbit lung could provide a significant route of entry for inhaled antigen into the systemic circulation and that immunization reduces absorption via this route and enhances pulmonary metabolism of the Ag.
J F Braley, C A Dawson, V L Moore, B O Cozzini