Research finds new cause for common lung problem

May 6, 2013, St. Michael's Hospital

New research has found that in cases of lung edema, or fluid in the lungs, not only do the lungs fail to keep water out as previously believed, but they are also allowing water to pump in.

"Usually, our lungs pump fluid out of the air space, and it was previously believed that this pump mechanism just stopped when people had lung edema," said Dr. Wolfgang Kuebler, a scientist at St. Michael's Hospital. "But we've found not only do they stop pumping fluid out as they're supposed to do, they've gotten confused and are actually pumping in the reverse direction, bringing fluid into the lungs."

The research was published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Kuebler said this finding has important implications for the treatment of lung edema, a common symptom of . Stopping the pumping mechanism, although seemingly counterintuitive, is protective for the lung and important for effective treatment.

For the first time, this explains why Lasix, a commonly prescribed drug, works in treating lung edema – it simply prevents the pumps from allowing fluid into the air spaces. Lasix was previously believed to work exclusively by targeting the kidneys.

"With this information, more effective drugs that target just the lungs, and not the kidneys, can now be developed," said Dr. Kuebler, also a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

Dr. Kuebler points out that this mechanism of pumping fluid into the air spaces is similar to what happens in the fetal lung. In the , the lung works to pump fluids in and only after the baby is born, does that pumping mechanism reverse itself to pump fluid out. "You can actually now interpret lung edema as a regression of the adult lung to a ," he said.

Explore further: Research findings breathe new life into lung disease

Related Stories

Research findings breathe new life into lung disease

October 24, 2012
It turns out the muscle cells on the outside of blood vessels have been wrongly accused for instigating lung disease. New research shows that while these muscle cells are responsible for constricting or dilating the blood ...

Ultrasound to detect lung congestion in dialysis patients may help save lives

February 28, 2013
Asymptomatic lung congestion increases dialysis patients' risks of dying prematurely or experiencing heart attacks or other cardiac events, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American ...

Many more lungs suitable for transplantation

June 30, 2011
Four patients now have new lungs thanks to a purpose-built machine used for the first time worldwide by Sahlgrenska University Hospital. Acquired for research at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, ...

Lung-on-a-Chip wins prize for potentially reducing need for animal testing

February 26, 2013
In a London ceremony today, Wyss Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., received the NC3Rs 3Rs Prize from the UK's National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) for his innovative ...

Recommended for you

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

Scientists unleash power of genetic data to identify disease risk

January 16, 2018
Massive banks of genetic information are being harnessed to shed new light on modifiable health risks that underlie common diseases.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.