Postnatal lung function after prenatal steroid treatment in sheep: effect of gender

Pediatric Research
K WilletP Sly


The effect of fetal gender on postnatal lung function and response to prenatal steroid exposure were examined retrospectively in a group of 115 preterm lambs. Fetuses received a single intramuscular injection of 0.5 mg/kg betamethasone alone or in conjunction with L-thyroxine 48 h before delivery at 128-d gestational age. Control animals received an equivalent volume of saline. After delivery, respiratory mechanics and blood gas parameters were recorded for 40 min. Deflation pressure volume curves were constructed in excised lungs. Right upper lobes from a randomly selected subgroup of control animals were examined morphometrically. Control (saline-treated) females were able to be ventilated at lower ventilatory pressures with equivalent tidal volumes and more efficient gas exchange. There were no gender differences in compliance, conductance, or excised lung volumes for saline-treated animals. More efficient gas exchange in females could not be explained by thinner alveolar septa or greater alveolar surface area. After hormone treatment, both males and females exhibited significant improvements in respiratory mechanics, gas exchange, and an increase in alveolar surfactant concentration. However, female exhibited a significantl...Continue Reading


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