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Pediatr Pulmonol. 2005 Apr;39(4):359-67.

Surfactant protein expression is increased in the ipsilateral but not contralateral lungs of fetal sheep with left-sided diaphragmatic hernia.

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  • 1Children's Institute for Surgical Science and Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Abramson 1112 D, 3615 Civic Center Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) impairs fetal lung growth and increases the density of alveolar epithelial type 2 (AE2) cells. There is controversy whether surfactant protein (SP) expression is altered in CDH. The primary aim of this study was to assess SP expression (mRNA and protein) in the left and right lungs of fetal sheep with and without a diaphragmatic hernia (DH). Left-sided DH was created in four fetal sheep at 65 days of gestational age (g.a.). Sham-operated animals were used as controls. At 138 days g.a., lungs were harvested and the following parameters were measured: SP-A, -B, and -C mRNA expression (Northern blot), SP-A and -B expression (Western blot), and AE2 cell density (immunohistochemistry). The lung weight-to-body weight ratio was reduced by 42% in DH animals. The left-to-right lung weight ratio was lower in DH animals (0.47 +/- 0.03 vs. 0.69 +/- 0.03), indicative of asymmetric lung growth. SP-A, -B, and -C mRNA expression were increased by 61.7%, 32.9%, and 75.5%, respectively, in the left lungs of DH animals. SP-A and SP-B were also increased in DH. In the right lung, SP expression (mRNA and protein) was not different between groups. AE2 cell density was higher (by 67%) in the left but not right lungs of DH animals. Although DH in fetal sheep results in significant lung hypoplasia, SP expression is not reduced. On the contrary, SP expression was increased in the ipsilateral lung of fetuses with left-sided DH. Furthermore, AE2 cell density is increased in DH, suggesting that the increase in SP mRNA and protein levels is due to increases AE2 cell number. Our data further support the premise that fetal lung hypoplasia favors an AE2 phenotype.

(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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