2011 Volume 60 Issue 2 Pages 141-150
Microaspiration due to gastroesophageal reflux (GER) has been suggested as a factor contributing to the development and exacerbation of several respiratory disorders. To explore the relationship between GER and respiratory disorders, we histologically examined the bilateral lungs of a rat gastroduodenal contents reflux model, which was previously used to investigate the histogenesis of Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal carcinoma. GER was surgically induced in male Wistar rats. The bilateral lungs of the reflux rats were examined with hematoxylin and eosin (HE), PAS-Alcian blue, and Azan staining at 10 and 20 weeks after surgery. Immunohistochemical staining of CD68 and α-SMA was also performed. Aspiration pneumonia with severe peribronchiolar neutrophilic and lymphocytic infiltrates, goblet cell hyperplasia, prominence of blood vessels, and increased thickness of the smooth muscle layer were detected. Bronchiolitis obliterans (BO)-like lesions comprising granulation tissue with macrophages, spindle cells, and multinucleated giant cells in the lumen of respiratory bronchioles were observed in the bilateral lungs of the reflux animals. These findings suggest that the severe inflammation and the BO-like lesions may play a role in exacerbation of the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV 1) in human cases. In conclusion, we speculate that repetitive microaspiration due to GER may contribute to the exacerbation of various respiratory diseases, particularly asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the development of BO syndrome following lung transplantation. The reflux model is a good tool for examining the causal relationships between GER and respiratory disorders.