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J Clin Neonatol. 2012 Jul;1(3):109-14. doi: 10.4103/2249-4847.101683.

Oxidative stress and bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproductive Medicine, University of Siena, Italy.


Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is the major cause of pulmonary disease in infants. The pathophysiology and management of BPD changed with the improvement of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) management and with the increase of survival rates. Despite the improvements made, BPD is still a public health concern, resulting in frequent hospitalizations with high rates of mortality, impaired weight and height growth, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Lung injury in the neonatal period has multiple etiologic factors - genetic, hemodynamic, metabolic, nutritional, mechanical, and infectious mechanisms - act in a cumulative and synergic way. Free radical (FR) generation is largely recognized as the major cause of lung damage. Oxidative stress (OS) is the final common endpoint for a complex convergence of events, some genetically determined and some triggered by in utero stressors. Inflammatory placental disorders and chorioamnionitis also play an important role due to the coexistence of inflammatory and oxidative lesions. In addition, the contribution of airway inflammation has been extensively studied. The link between inflammation and OS injury involves the direct activation of inflammatory cells, especially granulocytes, which potentiates the inflammatory reaction. Individualized interventions to support ventilation, minimize oxygen exposure, minimize apnea, and encourage growth should decrease both the frequency and severity of BPD. Future perspectives suggest supplementation with enzymatic and/or non-enzymatic antioxidants. The use of antioxidants in preterm newborns particularly exposed to OS and at risk for BPD represents a logical strategy to ameliorate FRs injury, but further studies are needed to support this hypothesis.


Bronchopulmonary dysplasia; oxidative stress; preterm newborns

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