Acute inflammatory response to contrast agent aspiration and its mechanisms in the rat lung

Rumi Ueha, Nogah Nativ-Zeltzer, Taku Sato, Takao Goto, Takaharu Nito, Peter C. Belafsky, Tatsuya Yamasoba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives/Hypothesis: Contrast agent (CA) aspiration is an established complication of upper gastrointestinal and videofluoroscopic swallow studies. The underlying molecular biological mechanisms of acute response to CA aspiration in the respiratory organs remain unclear. The aims of this study were to elucidate the histological and biological influences of three kinds of CAs on the lung and to clarify the differences in acute responses. Study Design: Animal model. Methods: Eight-week-old male Sprague Dawley rats were divided into five groups (n = 6 in each group). Three groups underwent tracheal instillation of one of three different CAs: barium (Ba) sulfate, nonionic contrast agents (NICAs), and ionic contrast agents (ICAs). A control group was instilled with saline and a sham group was instilled with air. All animals were euthanized on day 2 after treatment and histological and gene analysis was performed. Results: No animal died after CA or control/sham aspiration. Ba caused severe histopathologic changes and more prominent inflammatory cell infiltration in the lungs compared with the two other iodinated contrast agents. Increases in expressions of inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor [Tnf], interleukin-1β [Il1b], and interferon-γ [Ifng]) were observed in Ba aspiration rats, and upregulation of Il1b was seen in ICA aspiration rats. NICA did not cause obvious histologic changes or expressions of inflammatory cytokines and fibrosis-related genes in the lungs. Conclusions: Ba caused significantly more acute lung inflammation in a rodent model than did ioinic and nonionic iodinated CAs. Nonionic contrast did not cause any discernible inflammatory response in the lungs, suggesting that it may be the safest contrast for videofluoroscopic swallow studies. Level of Evidence: NA. Laryngoscope, 129:1533–1538, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1533-1538
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Contrast agents
  • acute response
  • inflammatory cells
  • inflammatory cytokines
  • lung


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