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Surfactants may reduce the adhesion force holding bubbles to the vessel wall in gas embolism. The authors measured bubble adhesion force using excised microvessels. They assessed endothelial damage by measuring vessel reactivity and with microscopy.Microbubbles injected into arterioles resided for 5, 10, or 30 min, with intact or damaged endothelium. Perfusion was with rat serum alone (control) or with 1% Perftoran (OJSC SPC Perftoran, Moscow, Russia) or 1% Pluronic F-127 (Molecular Probes, Eugene, OR) added. Pressure across the bubble, bubble length, and bubble diameter were measured, and adhesion force per unit surface area, K = ΔPD/4 l, was calculated. Vessel reactivity was assessed using topical application of phenylephrine and acetylcholine.With the endothelium intact, K was higher in controls than with Perftoran at 10 and 30 min or Pluronic F-127 at 10 min (P < 0.05). With surfactant added after air perfusion to damage the endothelium, K was lower (P < 0.05) at all times for both Perftoran and Pluronic F-127. With surfactant in the perfusate before air perfusion, K was lower at 10 and 30 min for Perftoran and at 10 min for Pluronic F-127 than for controls (P < 0.05). Phenylephrine-induced vasoconstriction was identical among groups. Acetylcholine-induced vasodilatation was the same among groups with an intact endothelium but was found to be lower in controls after air perfusion that followed surfactant exposure than in either surfactant group (P < 0.05).Surfactants reduced bubble adhesion force and preserved basic endothelial structure and vasodilatory function despite attempts to damage the endothelium. Surfactants seem to protect the endothelium from mechanically induced injury in addition to decreasing bubble adhesion forces.