Intravenous recombinant secretory leukoprotease inhibitor augments antineutrophil elastase defense

P. Birrer, N. G. McElvaney, A. Gillissen, R. F. Hoyt, D. C. Bloedow, R. C. Hubbard, R. G. Crystal

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Secretory leukoprotease inhibitor (SLPI), a 12-kDa serine antiprotease, normally protects the upper airway epithelial surface from attack by neutrophil elastase (NE). In the context that a variety of inflammatory lung diseases are characterized by large neutrophil burdens with resultant high levels of NE in the lung, recombinant SLPI (rSLPI), a molecule identical to natural SLPI, may be an effective means to augment the anti-NE protective screen of the lung. To determine whether intravenous rSLPI will augment respiratory tract and epithelial surface levels of SLPI and anti-NE capacity, rSLPI was administered intravenously to sheep and SLPI levels were quantified in plasma, lung lymph (as a measure of lung interstitial levels), lung epithelial lining fluid (ELF), and urine. rSLPI (1 g) was administered over 10 min, and after 30 min plasma levels of SLPI were 8 μM and decreased with a half-life of 1.8 h. Lymph SLPI levels paralleled the plasma levels: 4 h after infusion the lymph to plasma ratio was 0.8. ELF SLPI levels paralleled the lymph levels: 4 h after infusion the ELF-to-lymph ratio was 0.3. Western analysis demonstrated intact SLPI in lymph and ELF, and functional analysis showed increases in lymph and ELF anti-NE capacity that paralleled the levels of SLPI. As might be expected from a protein with a molecular mass of 12 kDa, urine excretion was high, with 20% of the SLPI excreted over 5 h. However, if the rate of infusion was slowed, SLPI excretion decreased significantly, with a 3-h infusion associated with 9% excretion and a 12-h infusion associated with <0.2% excretion. Importantly, slowing the infusion rate was associated with only a mild decrease in lung delivery, with ELF levels 2 h after a 12-h infusion 65% of ELF levels 2 h after a 10-min infusion. Thus, intravenous rSLPI administration can markedly augment the anti-NE defenses of the lung, and by slowing the rate of rSLPI administration, urinary excretion of SLPI can be markedly curtailed without consequent loss of delivery of the molecule to the target organ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-323
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1992



  • animal
  • bronchoscopy
  • neutrophil elastase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

Cite this

Birrer, P., McElvaney, N. G., Gillissen, A., Hoyt, R. F., Bloedow, D. C., Hubbard, R. C., & Crystal, R. G. (1992). Intravenous recombinant secretory leukoprotease inhibitor augments antineutrophil elastase defense. Journal of Applied Physiology, 73(1), 317-323.