This laboratory has previously shown that hyperoxia enhances airspace enlargement in a hamster model of elastase-induced emphysema. To further understand the mechanism responsible for this finding, the effect of oxidants on elastase activity was studied in vitro, using a radiolabeled elastic fiber matrix derived from rat pleural mesothelial cells. Matrix samples were treated with either 0.1%, 1%, 3%, or 10% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) for 1 hr, then incubated with 1.0 μg/ml porcine pancreatic elastase for 2 hrs. Radioactivity released from the matrix was used as a measure of elastolysis. Results indicate that sequential exposure to H2O 2 and elastase markedly enhanced elastolysis compared to enzyme treatment alone. A 22% increase in elastolysis was seen with 0.1% H 2O2 (325 vs. 396 cpm; P < 0.05), whereas samples pretreated with 1%, 3%, and 10% H2O2 showed increases of 53% (274 vs. 420 cpm; P < 0.05), 71% (381 vs. 653 cpm; P < 0.01), and 38% (322 vs. 443 cpm; P < 0.01), respectively. Exposure to various concentrations of H2O2 alone (0.1% to 10%) produced only minimal elastolysis (<20 cpm). However, 1% H2O2 was capable of degrading peptide-free desmosine and isodesmosine, suggesting that exposure to this oxidant may reduce the stability of the elastic fiber matrix. With regard to lung diseases such as emphysema, H2O2 and other oxidants derived from inflammatory cells or the environment could possibly act as priming agents for elastase-mediated breakdown of elastic fibers, resulting in amplification of lung injury.
- Hydrogen peroxide