Changes in lung expansion alter pulmonary DNA synthesis and IGF-II gene expression in fetal sheep

S. B. Hooper, V. K.M. Han, R. Harding

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Our aim was to determine the effect of short-term (7 days) alterations in fetal lung liquid volume on pulmonary DNA synthesis rates and insulin-like growth factor-II (IGF-II) mRNA levels. Fifteen chronically catheterized fetal sheep were divided into three groups. In one, the trachea was obstructed, in another lung liquid was drained by gravity, and the third group served as controls. After 7 days, [3H]thymidine was injected into each fetus and 8 h later fetal tissues were collected. Fetal lung-to-body weight ratios and total lung DNA contents were greatly increased in fetuses with tracheal obstruction compared with control fetuses, whereas the drainage of lung liquid did not affect these measurements. DNA synthesis rates in pulmonary tissue were significantly reduced from a mean control value of 153.3 ± 25.1 disintegrations per minute (dpm)/μg DNA to 57.2 ± 8.6 dpm/μg DNA by lung liquid drainage (P < 0.05) and were significantly increased to 236.0 ± 24.0 dpm/μg DNA by tracheal obstruction (P < 0.05). Following tracheal obstruction, lung IGF-II mRNA levels were increased to 177.0 ± 18.2% (P < 0.05) of the mean value for control fetuses, whereas they were reduced to 56.1 ± 7.1% of control in lung liquid-drained fetuses. We conclude that altering fetal lung expansion has a potent and rapid effect on pulmonary DNA synthesis and that this effect may, in part, be mediated by an alteration in IGF-II gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number4 9-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1993


  • deoxyribonucleic acid content and synthesis
  • fetus
  • lung growth

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