Although the prematurely born are known to have decreased baseline levels of protective antioxidant enzymes (Frank L, Sosenko IRS: J Pediatr 110:9 and 106, 1987), the ability to augment the baseline values during high O2 exposure is the key factor determining O2 tolerance versus O2 susceptibility. We have compared the pulmonary antioxidant enzyme responses of prematurely delivered rabbits (gestational d 29 of 32) and full-term rabbits to 48-72 h of hyperoxic exposure. We found that although full-term newborns exposed to >90% O2 consistently showed elevated superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activities, the premature animals repeatedly failed to respond to hyperoxia with increased antioxidant enzyme activity levels. Consistent with the comparative antioxidant enzyme responses were the evidences of O2 toxicity in the two age groups. The prematurely born rabbits had significantly increased lung lavage protein content, lung conjugated diene levels, and more severe light microscopic lung pathology compared with the full-term animals during equal O2 exposure time. This first reported comparison of prematurely born versus full-term animal responses to hyperoxia might help to explain the clinical observation that the very prematurely born infant is excessively prone to the development of O2-induced lung injury and the progressive development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health