Occupational contamination is a potential health risk associated with plutonium inhalation. DTPA remains the chelating drug of choice to decorporate plutonium. In this study, plutonium was found to be more effectively removed from lungs by a single inhalation of nebulized DTPA solution at only 1.1 µmol.kg–1 than by a single intravenous (i.v.) dose of DTPA at 15 µmol.kg–1. When DTPA was inhaled promptly after contamination, it removed the transportable fraction of plutonium prior blood absorption, thereby preventing both liver and bone depositions. Conversely, DTPA injection was better than inhalation at reducing the extrapulmonary burden, probably due to the much greater circulating dose, favoring the mobilization of plutonium already translocated. Thus, prompt inhalation, concomitantly supplemented with i.v. injection, of DTPA induced an important decrease in extrapulmonary deposits. Repeated DTPA inhalations over several weeks were more efficient than a single inhalation in limiting both pulmonary and extrapulmonary plutonium retention, due at least in part to the chelation of the transportable fraction of lung plutonium. Furthermore, repeated DTPA injections remained better at reducing liver and bone plutonium retentions. Taken together, our results suggest that multiple DTPA inhalations may be considered an effective treatment after inhalation of plutonium, particularly given the ease of this needle-free delivery, for the two following conditions: 1. A treatment combining i.v. injection and inhalation should be given in an emergency scenario to efficiently chelate the activity already absorbed; 2. Inhalations should be administered daily to effectively trap the early transferable fraction.

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