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Effects of Postnatal Dexamethasone or Hydrocortisone in a Rat Model of Antenatal Lipopolysaccharide and Neonatal Hyperoxia Exposure

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      The aim of our study was to investigate the differential effects of dexamethasone (DXM) and hydrocortisone (HCS) on somatic growth and postnatal lung development in a rat model of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). A rat model of BPD was induced by administering intra-amniotic lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and postnatal hyperoxia. The rats were treated with a 6-day (D1-D6) tapering course of DXM (starting dose 0.5 mg/kg/day), HCS (starting dose 2 mg/kg/day), or an equivalent volume of normal saline. DXM treatment in a rat model of BPD induced by LPS and hyperoxia was also associated with a more profound weight loss compared to control and LPS + O2 groups not exposed to corticosteroid, whereas HCS treatment affected body weight only slightly. Examination of lung morphology showed worse mean cord length in both LPS + O2 + DXM and LPS + O2 + HCS groups as compared to the LPS + O2 alone group, and the LPS + O2 + DXM group had thicker alveolar walls than the LPS + O2 group at day 14. The HCS treatment was not significantly associated with aberrant alveolar wall thickening and retarded somatic growth. The use of postnatal DXM or HCS in a rat model of BPD induced by intra-amniotic LPS and postnatal hyperoxia appeared detrimental to lung growth, but there was less effect in the case of HCS. These findings suggest that effect of HCS on somatic growth and pulmonary outcome may be better tolerated in neonates for preventing and/or treating BPD.

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      Most cited references 30

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        Prophylaxis of early adrenal insufficiency to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia: a multicenter trial.

        Infants developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) show decreased cortisol response to adrenocorticotropic hormone. A pilot study of low-dose hydrocortisone therapy for prophylaxis of early adrenal insufficiency showed improved survival without BPD at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age, particularly in infants exposed to histologic chorioamnionitis. Mechanically ventilated infants with birth weights of 500 to 999 g were enrolled into this multicenter, randomized, masked trial between 12 and 48 hours of life. Patients received placebo or hydrocortisone, 1 mg/kg per day for 12 days, then 0.5 mg/kg per day for 3 days. BPD at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age was defined clinically (receiving supplemental oxygen) and physiologically (supplemental oxygen required for O2 saturation > or =90%). Patient enrollment was stopped at 360 patients because of an increase in spontaneous gastrointestinal perforation in the hydrocortisone-treated group. Survival without BPD was similar, defined clinically or physiologically, as were mortality, head circumference, and weight at 36 weeks. For patients exposed to histologic chorioamnionitis (n = 149), hydrocortisone treatment significantly decreased mortality and increased survival without BPD, defined clinically or physiologically. After treatment, cortisol values and response to adrenocorticotropic hormone were similar between groups. Hydrocortisone-treated infants receiving indomethacin had more gastrointestinal perforations than placebo-treated infants receiving indomethacin, suggesting an interactive effect. Prophylaxis of early adrenal insufficiency did not improve survival without BPD in the overall study population; however, treatment of chorioamnionitis-exposed infants significantly decreased mortality and improved survival without BPD. Low-dose hydrocortisone therapy did not suppress adrenal function or compromise short-term growth. The combination of indomethacin and hydrocortisone should be avoided.
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          Glucocorticoids and lung development in the fetus and preterm infant.

          During the final prenatal period of fetal lung development in humans, important maturational processes occur, including the production of surfactant necessary to decrease surface tension at the air-liquid interface of the alveoli. During early gestation, the glucocorticoid receptor is expressed in the fetal lung, and glucocorticoids stimulate the production of surfactant-associated proteins and increase phospholipid synthesis by enhancing the activity of phosphatidylcholine. Other glucocorticoid-induced effects may include stimulation of cell maturation and differentiation, inhibition of DNA synthesis, changes in interstitial tissue components, stimulation of antioxidant enzymes, and regulation of pulmonary fluid metabolism. Recently, it was suggested that glucocorticoids are also important in postnatal pulmonary development, and may be related to the development of neonatal lung disease in preterm infants. Surfactant deficiency that can be prevented by antenatal corticosteroid treatment causes infant respiratory distress syndrome and requires mechanical ventilation. Ventilation by itself or in combination with high levels of oxygen, fluid overload, pulmonary infections, sepsis, and air leak syndrome causes an acute pulmonary inflammatory reaction that may result in chronic lung disease or bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Glucocorticoids are effective in the treatment of chronic lung disease of prematurity and regulate the inflammatory response by the interaction with transcription factors such as nuclear factor kappaB and activated protein 1. Indeed, inflammatory cells and the levels of chemokines and cytokines in bronchoalveolar fluid decrease after dexamethasone treatment. However, treatment of fetuses and preterm infants with repeated and/or high doses of corticosteroids may have considerable long-term side effects on somatic, brain, and lung growth. The difficult balance between short-term gain and the possible long-term side effects of glucocorticoids in preterms remains a difficult issue. Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
            [2 ]Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Korea.
            [3 ]Department of Pediatrics, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
            Author notes
            Address for Correspondence: Beyong Il Kim, MD. Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, 166 Gumi-ro, Bundang-gu, Seongnam 463-707, Korea. Tel: +82.31-787-7282, Fax: +82.31-787-4054, beyil@
            J Korean Med Sci
            J. Korean Med. Sci
            Journal of Korean Medical Science
            The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences
            April 2012
            21 March 2012
            : 27
            : 4
            : 395-401
            © 2012 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Original Article


            bronchopulmonary dysplasia, hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, lung development


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