Inflammation and lung maturation from stretch injury in preterm fetal sheep

Noah H. Hillman, Graeme R. Polglase, J. Jane Pillow, Masatoshi Saito, Suhas G. Kallapur, Alan H. Jobe

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76 Citations (Scopus)


Mechanical ventilation is a risk factor for the development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature infants. Fifteen minutes of high tidal volume (VT) ventilation induces inflammatory cytokine expression in small airways and lung parenchyma within 3 h. Our objective was to describe the temporal progression of cytokine and maturation responses to lung injury in fetal sheep exposed to a defined 15-min stretch injury. After maternal anesthesia and hysterotomy, 129-day gestation fetal lambs (n = 7-8/group) had the head and chest exteriorized. Each fetus was intubated, and airway fluid was gently removed. While placental support was maintained, the fetus received ventilation with an escalating VT to 15 ml/kg without positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) for 15 min using heated, humidified 100% nitrogen. The fetus was then returned to the uterus for 1, 6, or 24 h. Control lambs received a PEEP of 2 cmH2O for 15 min. Tissue samples from the lung and systemic organs were evaluated. Stretch injury increased the early response gene Egr-1 and increased expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines within 1 h. The injury induced granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor mRNA and matured monocytes to alveolar macrophages by 24 h. The mRNA for the surfactant proteins A, B, and C increased in the lungs by 24 h. The airway epithelium demonstrated dynamic changes in heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) over time. Serum cortisol levels did not increase, and induction of systemic inflammation was minimal. We conclude that a brief period of high VT ventilation causes a proinflammatory cascade, a maturation of lung monocytic cells, and an induction of surfactant protein mRNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L232-L241
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Feb


  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Cytokines
  • Tidal volume


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