Cutaneous lewisite exposure causes acute lung injury

Academic Article


  • Lewisite is a strong vesicating and chemical warfare agent. Because of the rapid transdermal absorption, cutaneous exposure to lewisite can also elicit severe systemic injury. Lewisite (2.5, 5.0, and 7.5 mg/kg) was applied to the skin of Ptch1+/−/SKH-1 mice and acute lung injury (ALI) was assessed after 24 hours. Arterial blood gas measurements showed hypercapnia and hypoxemia in the lewisite-exposed group. Histological evaluation of lung tissue revealed increased levels of proinflammatory neutrophils and a dose-dependent increase in structural changes indicative of injury. Increased inflammation was also confirmed by altered expression of cytokines, including increased IL-33, and a dose-dependent elevation of CXCL1, CXCL5, and GCSF was observed in the lung tissue. In the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of lewisite-exposed animals, there was a significant increase in HMGB1, a damage-associated molecular pattern molecule, as well as elevated CXCL1 and CXCL5, which coincided with an influx of neutrophils to the lungs. Complete blood cell analysis revealed eosinophilia and altered neutrophil–lymphocyte ratios as a consequence of lewisite exposure. Mean platelet volume and RBC distribution width, which are predictors of lung injury, were also increased in the lewisite group. These data demonstrate that cutaneous lewisite exposure causes ALI and may contribute to mortality in exposed populations.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Manzoor S; Mariappan N; Zafar I; Wei CC; Ahmad A; Surolia R; Foote JB; Agarwal A; Ahmad S; Athar M
  • Start Page

  • 210
  • End Page

  • 222
  • Volume

  • 1479
  • Issue

  • 1