Lung Hyaluronan and Water Content in Preterm and Term Rabbit Pups Exposed to Oxygen or Air

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Rabbit pups were delivered by cesarean section 1 or 2 d before term, or vaginally around term, and then reared in room air or exposed to intermittent or continuous hyperoxia (>85%) for up to 9 d. Pups were killed at different ages, and lung hyaluronan (HA; µg/g of dry lung weight) and lung water content, measured as wet/dry lung weight, were determined. Compared with the day of birth, the lung HA concentration did not change significantly on succeeding days in pups kept in air delivered 2 d (-2 d) or 1 d (-1 d) before term, whereas the water content decreased significantly. Continuous exposure to hyperoxia resulted in a significantly raised lung HA concentration 6 d postterm in both -2 d and -1 d pups, and intermittent exposure to hyperoxia resulted in a significantly raised HA concentration 6 d postterm in -1 d pups, compared with the groups exposed to room air. These increases were accompanied by significantly elevated wet/dry lung weight ratios. Microscopic examination revealed significantly increased HA staining scores in alveoli, arterioles, and bronchioli in both hyperoxia-exposed groups of -2 d pups 6 d postterm, and nonsignificantly higher scores in -1 d and vaginally delivered pups of comparable age, compared with the scores at birth. The results indicate that oxygen exposure neonatally may result in an increase in lung HA accompanied by an increase in lung water content. The increase in lung HA concentration in our study may be an affect of oxygen free radicals or oxygen-induced stimulation of inflammatory mediators.

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