Progressive Vascular Functional and Structural Damage in a Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Model in Preterm Rabbits Exposed to Hyperoxia

Julio Jiménez, Jute Richter, Taro Nagatomo, Thomas Salaets, Rozenn Quarck, Allard Wagennar, Hongmei Wang, Jeroen Vanoirbeek, Jan Deprest, Jaan Toelen
International Journal of Molecular Sciences2016
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is caused by preterm neonatal lung injury and results in oxygen dependency and pulmonary hypertension. Current clinical management fails to reduce the incidence of BPD, which calls for novel therapies. Fetal rabbits have a lung development that mimics humans and can be used as a translational model to test novel treatment options. In preterm rabbits, exposure to hyperoxia leads to parenchymal changes, yet vascular damage has not been studied in this model. In this study we document the early functional and structural changes of the lung vasculature in preterm rabbits that are induced by hyperoxia after birth. Pulmonary artery Doppler measurements, micro-CT barium angiograms and media thickness of peripheral pulmonary arteries were affected after seven days of hyperoxia when compared to controls. The parenchyma was also affected both at the functional and structural level. Lung function testing showed higher tissue resistance and elastance, with a decreased lung compliance and lung capacity. Histologically hyperoxia leads to fewer and larger alveoli with thicker walls, less developed distal airways and more inflammation than normoxia. In conclusion, we show that the rabbit model develops pulmonary hypertension and developmental lung arrest after preterm lung injury, which parallel the early changes in human BPD. Thus it enables the testing of pharmaceutical agents that target the cardiovascular compartment of the lung for further translation towards the clinic. Keywords:

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