We have previously shown that fetal growth restriction (FGR) during late gestation in sheep affects lung development in the near-term fetus and at 8 wk after birth. In the present study, our aim was to determine the effects of FGR on the structure of the lungs at 2 y after birth; our hypothesis was that changes observed at 8 wk after birth would persist until maturity. FGR was induced in sheep by umbilicoplacental embolization, which was maintained from 120 d until delivery at term (approximately 147 d); birth weights of FGR lambs were 41% lower than in controls. At 2 y after birth, body and lung weights were not different, but there were 28% fewer alveoli and alveoli were significantly larger than in controls; hence there was a 10% reduction in the internal surface area relative to lung volume in FGR sheep compared with controls. The lungs of FGR sheep, compared with controls, had thicker interalveolar septa as a result of increased extracellular matrix deposition; the alveolar blood-air barrier was also thicker, largely because of an 82% increase in basement membrane thickness. These changes are qualitatively similar to those observed at 8 wk. Our data show that structural alterations in the lungs induced by FGR that were apparent at 8 wk were still evident at 2 y after birth, indicating that FGR may result in permanent changes in the structure of the lungs of the offspring and may affect respiratory health and lung aging later in life.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|State||Published - Feb 2004|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health