Plasma concentrations of a stable prostaglandin F2 alpha metabolite were measured by radioimmunoassay during and after recovery from acute airway obstruction in 15 infants. Mean (SEM) metabolite concentrations (ng/l) in plasma obtained both before (1033 (418)) and after (1470 (413)) initial treatment for airway obstruction were significantly higher than those obtained from the same subjects after resolution of the obstruction--25.5 (6.6)--and those obtained from two comparison groups. Infants positive for respiratory syncytial virus (mean 1122 (227)) had significantly higher concentrations than those who were negative (207.6 (46)). Additionally, seven subjects with a history of recurrent wheezing after resolution of airway obstruction had a significantly higher mean level (3500 (1400)) during attacks of airway obstruction than those without (600 (100)). These data suggest that prostaglandin F2 alpha mediates respiratory inflammation in airway obstruction and that trials of specific anti-inflammatory agents for the treatment of airway obstruction may be warranted.
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