After inhalation of plutonium oxides containing various percentages of americium in rats, we identified an acellular transient pulmonary compartment, the epithelial lining fluid (ELF), in which a fraction of actinide oxides dissolve prior to absorption and subsequent extrapulmonary deposit. Chelation therapy is usually considered to be poorly efficient after inhalation of actinide oxides. However, in the present study, prompt pulmonary administration of diethylenetraminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) as a dry powder led to a decrease in actinide content in ELF together with a limitation of bone and liver deposits. Because americium is more soluble than plutonium, higher amounts of americium were found in ELF, extrapulmonary tissues and urine. Our results also demonstrated that the higher efficacy of DTPA on americium compared to plutonium in ELF induced a preferential inhibition of extrapulmonary deposit and a greater urinary excretion of americium compared to plutonium. All together, our data justify the use of an early and local DTPA treatment after inhalation of plutonium oxide aerosols in which americium can be in high proportion such as in aged compounds.
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Vol. 174 • No. 5