Pregnant does were treated with betamethasone, T3, TRH, or combinations of betamethasone plus T3 or TRH using doses of each agent known to effect lung maturation. Preterm rabbits were then delivered at 27 days gestational age, half of each group was treated with Surfactant TA, and the rabbits were ventilated in a ventilator-plethysmograph system such that tidal volumes were regulated to mean values of 12 to 13 ml/kg. At 30 min of age when mean P(CO2) values for the study groups were between 33 and 42 mm Hg, lung function of each rabbit was evaluated by the peak inspiratory pressure needed to achieve the desired tidal volume, by compliance, and by the ventilation efficiency index. These measures of lung function showed no benefit of corticosteroids or T3 in the absence of surfactant, whereas TRH significantly improved lung function. Although surfactant treatment improved lung function in all groups, the best effect after a single hormone treatment was with corticosteroids. The combined use of corticosteroids and TRH in surfactant-treated animals resulted in the best overall responses. The leak of protein into and out of the lungs was measured with radiolabeled albumins. The leak decreased as peak ventilatory pressures decreased in all groups and decreased with surfactant treatments of all groups. Corticosteroids decreased the protein leak into the airways more than could be accounted for by the effects of corticosteroids on ventilatory pressures alone (p < 0.01). None of the hormone treatments significantly increased the saturated phosphatidylcholine pool sizes from the low values noted in the control animals. Corticosteroids and TRH 'prepared' the preterm lung to have a large functional improvement after a surfactant treatment. Taken together, these results are consistent with changes in preterm lung structure in response to exogenous hormones.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine