The effect of bilateral adrenalectomy on the sensitivity of blood vessels in rat airways to mediators that increase vascular permeability was examined. 2. An increase in vascular permeability was induced by intravenous platelet activating factor (PAF, 50, 100, 500, 1000 ng kg-1) and measured by quantifying the extravasation of Evans blue dye. 3. PAF consistently increased the amount of Evans blue extravasation in the larynx, trachea, main bronchi and intrapulmonary airways in sham-operated rats. 4. The magnitude of this extravasation was significantly greater in the larynx (P less than 0.05), trachea (P less than 0.05) and main bronchi (P less than 0.05) of the adrenalectomized rats than it was in these tissues of the sham-operated rats. 5. When adrenalectomized rats were given subcutaneous dexamethasone (0.2 mg kg-1 4 h before PAF) the amount of plasma extravasation produced by PAF was decreased to the level of the sham-operated rats. 6. We conclude that adrenalectomy potentiates the increase in airway vascular permeability induced by PAF in rats and that this effect may be due to the depletion of endogenous corticosteroids
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