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Pediatr Dev Pathol. 1998 Nov-Dec;1(6):494-502.

Fibronectin expression in bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

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Department of Pediatrics (Neonatology), Children's Hospital at Strong, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 651, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a chronic fibrotic lung disease of neonates. Fibronectin (FN), a component of the extracellular matrix, is increased in the tracheobronchial effluent of neonates destined to develop BPD. Pulmonary FN is derived from plasma and local cellular synthesis. In order to identify which pulmonary cells synthesize FN and to test the hypothesis that FN is more abundant in lungs with BPD, we examined the distribution of pulmonary FN by in situ hybridization (for mRNA) and immunohistochemistry (for protein) in neonatal autopsy lung specimens, comparing lungs with BPD to those without. We used a staging system in which BPD is characterized by disruption of alveolar architecture, severe vascular changes, airway epithelial necrosis, smooth muscle hypertrophy, and peribronchial fibrosis. FN mRNA and protein were found in vascular endothelium, macrophages, fibroblasts, vascular and airway smooth muscle, and chondrocytes as well as in the pulmonary parenchyma in neonates with and without BPD. Hyaline membranes, when present, immunostained intensely for FN protein. FN mRNA was not seen in airway epithelial cells of either group. FN mRNA and protein were first increased in early acute BPD with their levels appearing greatest during the chronic reparative stage of BPD. In long-standing "healed" BPD, lower levels of FN mRNA and protein were seen. These findings are consistent with the association of increased FN with adult fibrotic lung disease and the previously reported increase in FN tracheal effluent levels in infants with BPD. Our results suggest an important role for pulmonary cell-derived FN in the early inflammatory and later proliferative stages of BPD.

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