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Stimulation of fetal lung surfactant production by administration of 17β-estradiol to the maternal rabbit

  • Savita S. Khosla
    Correspondence
    Reprint requests: Dr. Savita S. Khosla, John B. Pierce Foundation Laboratory, 290 Congress Ave., New Haven, Connecticut 06519.
    Affiliations
    John B. Pierce Foundation Laboratory, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

    the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

    the Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
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  • Seamus A. Rooney
    Affiliations
    John B. Pierce Foundation Laboratory, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

    the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

    the Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
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      Abstract

      We have investigated the effect of 17β-estradiol on lung surfactant production in the fetal rabbit. Pregnant rabbits were administered intramuscularly 75μg of 17β-estradiol per day at 25 and 26 days' gestation. Control rabbits were similarly injected with the solvent only. At 27 days' gestation the fetuses were delivered by cesarean section and the lungs of the newborn rabbits were lavaged in situ with 0.9 per cent NaCl. Analysis of lung lavage and lavaged lung tissue phospholipids yielded the following results: (a) The 17β-estradiol-treated group had three to four times more total phospholipid and phosphatidylcholine in the lung lavage than the control group. (b) The phosphatidylcholine/sphingomyelin ratio in the lung lavage was significantly higher in the treated than in the control group. (c) The lavaged lung tissue of the treated group had almost twice as much total phospholipid and phosphatidylcholine as the control group. These changes in lung phospholipid content and composition are in the direction of increased lung maturity and suggest that estrogen may have a role in fetal lung maturation and surfactant production.
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