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Effects of Small-Particle Aerosols of Rimantadine and Ribavirin on Arterial Blood pH and Gas Tensions and Lung Water Content of A2 Influenza-Infected Mice

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  • Pharmacology And Therapeutics
  • Biology
  • Medicine


The respiratory pathophysiology of A2 influenza infection was studied in mice treated with small-particle aerosols (SPA) of rimantadine or ribavirin. Untreated infections in mice resulted in survival rates of 15% or less and were characterized by (i) severe hypoventilation (decreased PO2 and increased PCO2), (ii) compensated respiratory acidosis (increased PCO2 and HCO3−, with normal pH), (iii) pneumonia with increased ratio of wet/dry lung weight, and (iv) hypothermia. Treatment with SPA of rimantadine (21 mg/kg per day for 4 days) beginning 72 h after virus challenge significantly improved survival rate (80%) but failed to alter lung pathology from that found in infected, untreated mice. Rimantadine treatment decreased somewhat the severity of hypoventilation, respiratory acidosis, lung wet weight, hypothermia, and lung virus titers from that observed in infected, untreated mice. SPA of ribavirin (26 mg/kg per day for 4 days) initiated 6 h after SPA exposure of mice to virus significantly improved survival rate (95%) and reduced lung virus titers and lung pathology. Gas exchange and pulmonary edema in ribavirin-treated, infected mice were significantly improved over those of infected, untreated controls. The mechanisms for increased survival rates induced by SPA of rimantadine remain uncertain, since increased survival rates could not be ascribed entirely to improvements in lung functions. In contrast, however, ribavirin treatment appeared to improve survival rates by reducing major lung pathology and pulmonary dysfunction. This was probably mediated through the antiviral effects of ribavirin.

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