We studied aerosol deposition and the response to inhaled particles and irritants in lungs of Boa constrictor. Snakes which breathed submicrometric particles radiolabeled with 99mTc retained 41.4 +/- 9.9% of the aerosol in the trachea, 42.5 +/- 8.8% in the anterior faveolar regions, and 8.7 +/- 4.1% in the posterior saccular regions of the lungs. Low activity recovered in the gastrointestinal tract over a 5-h period following aerosol exposure indicated slow clearance of inhaled particles. In contrast to mammalian lungs, there are no macrophages resident on the surface of boa lungs, and uningested particles persist for up to 4 days without being phagocytized. Particles and irritant stimuli (Fe2O3, endotoxin, and N-formylmethionylphenylalanine) elicited only eosinophilic granulocytes that were not phagocytic. The numbers of these cells peaked at 24 h following exposure and declined gradually over the next 7 days. Lavage fluid from stimulated snake lungs contained many large lamellar figures continuous with tubular myelin, a form of surfactant. Very little of this material was recovered from control lungs. Response to inhaled particles and lung injury in boas increased surfactant release, elicited eosinophilic granulocytes, but did not recruit phagocytic mononuclear cells.
- Copyright © 1981 the American Physiological Society