Protection against acute paraquat toxicity by ambroxol

L. Perin, M. Donnini, L. Diomede, M. Romano, M. T. Tacconi, M. Luisetti, M. Salmona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the earliest biochemical effects induced by the herbicide paraquat (PQ) is damage to type II pneumocytes with consequent depletion of surfactant (Skillrud and Martin, 1984). We made a series of studies on the possible protective effect of drug ambroxol, which induces surfactant synthesis from alveolar type II cells (Post et al. 1983). The cell line A-549, exposed in vitro to PQ concentrations ranging from 0.5×10-4 to 2×10-3 M, showed a significant dose-dependent loss of viability. Ambroxol (10 mg/ml) pretreated cells were more resistant to PQ, their viability starting to decrease from a PQ concentration of 0.8×10-3 M. Membrane microviscosity was measured on the same cells. Cells treated with PQ alone showed a reduction of membrane microviscosity which was significantly counteracted by ambroxol pretreatment. The curves for membrane microviscosity of PQ and ambroxol-plus-PQ-treated cells overlapped those for cell viability, indicating that the stimulation of surfactant synthesis in vitro may be a prerequisite for counteracting some of the precocious effects of PQ. Partial protection from PQ- induced mortality was also obtained in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-27
Number of pages3
Issue number1 Supplement
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biotechnology


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