Cyclic mechanical strain increases reactive oxygen species production in pulmonary epithelial cells

Kenneth E. Chapman, Scott E. Sinclair, Daming Zhuang, Aviv Hassid, Leena P. Desai, Christopher M. Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Overdistention of lung tissue during mechanical ventilation may be one of the factors that initiates ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). We hypothesized that cyclic mechanical stretch (CMS) of the lung epithelium is involved in the early events of VILI through the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cultures of an immortalized human airway epithelial cell line (16HBE), a human alveolar type II cell line (A549), and primary cultures of rat alveolar type II cells were cyclically stretched, and the production of superoxide (O2-) was measured by dihydroethidium fluorescence. CMS stimulated increased production of O2- after 2 h in each type of cell. 16HBE cells exhibited no significant stimulation of ROS before 2 h of CMS (20% strain, 30 cycles/min), and ROS production returned to control levels after 24 h. Oxidation of glutathione (GSH), a cellular antioxidant, increased with CMS as measured by a decrease in the ratio of the reduced GSH level to the oxidized GSH level. Strain levels of 10% did not increase O2- production in 16HBE cells, whereas 15, 20, and 30% significantly increased generation of O2-. Rotenone, a mitochondrial complex I inhibitor, partially abrogated the stretch-induced generation of O2- after 2 h CMS in 16HBE cells. NADPH oxidase activity was increased after 2 h of CMS, contributing to the production of O2-. Increased ROS production in lung epithelial cells in response to elevated stretch may contribute to the onset of VILI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L834-L841
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number5 33-5
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Mechanotransduction
  • Ventilator-induced lung injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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