Prenatal development of lung antioxidant enzymes in four species

Lee Frank, R. S. Ilene Sosenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

212 Scopus citations


We examined the chronology of development of both fetal lung antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase) and disaturated phosphatidylcholine ("surfactant") during late gestation in four laboratory animal species: rat, rabbit, hamster, and guinea pig. An essentially similar pattern of prenatal biochemical maturation was found in all four species. The developmental changes were characterized by (1) rapid elevations in fetal lung antioxidant enzyme levels during the final 10% to 15% of gestation, and (2) an essentially parallel rapid rise in lung surfactant content during the final 10% to 15% of gestation. The increase in the lung activity of the individual antioxidant enzymes prior to birth averaged ∼150% to 200%. Our findings suggest that late gestational changes in the principal pulmonary antioxidant defense system (like the changes in the surfactant system) represents a normal "preparation for birth," required to assure successful functioning of the neonatal lung in the relatively oxygen-rich ex utero environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-110
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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