Surfactant-assisted distal pulmonary distribution of budesonide revealed by mass spectrometry imaging

Riccardo Zecchi, Pietro Franceschi, Laura Tigli, Barbara Pioselli, Valentina Mileo, Xabier Murgia, Fabrizio Salomone, Giuseppe Pieraccini, Haruo Usada, Augusto F. Schmidt, Noah H. Hillman, Matthew W. Kemp, Alan H. Jobe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Direct lung administration of budesonide in combination with surfactant reduces the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Although the therapy is currently undergoing clinical development, the lung distribution of budesonide throughout the premature neonatal lung has not yet been investigated. Here, we applied mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) to investigate the surfactant-assisted distal lung distribution of budesonide. Unlabeled budesonide was either delivered using saline as a vehicle (n = 5) or in combination with a standard dose of the porcine surfactant Poractant alfa (n = 5). These lambs were ventilated for one minute, and then the lungs were extracted for MSI analysis. Another group of lambs (n = 5) received the combination of budesonide and Poractant alfa, followed by two hours of mechanical ventilation. MSI enabled the label-free detection and visualization of both budesonide and the essential constituent of Poractant alfa, the porcine surfactant protein C (SP-C). 2D ion intensity images revealed a non-uniform distribution of budesonide with saline, which appeared clustered in clumps. In contrast, the combination therapy showed a more homogeneous distribution of budesonide throughout the sample, with more budesonide distributed towards the lung periphery. We found similar distribution patterns for the SP-C and budesonide in consecutive lung tissue sections, indicating that budesonide was transported across the lungs associated with the exogenous surfactant. After two hours of mechanical ventilation, the budesonide intensity signal in the 2D ion intensity maps dropped dramatically, suggesting a rapid lung clearance and highlighting the relevance of achieving a uniform surfactant-assisted lung distribution of budesonide early after delivery to maximize the anti-inflammatory and maturational effects throughout the lung.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number868
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 12 2021


  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Budesonide
  • Mass spectrometry imaging
  • Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome
  • Poractant alfa
  • Premature lambs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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