Delayed fetal pulmonary maturation in a rabbit model of the diabetic pregnancy

C. L. Bose, D. N. Manne, A. J. D'Ercole, E. E. Lawson

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27 Scopus citations


A rabbit model for the diabetic pregnancy was used to investigate the etiology of delayed pulmonary maturation observed in infants of diabetic mothers. Pregnant rabbit does were made glucose intolerant and insulinopenic by injection of alloxan, a pancreatic β-cell cytotoxin. At 28 days (term ~ 31 days) fetuses of these animals were hyperglycemic, but were not hyperinsulinemic and did not demonstrate tissue overgrowth. Fetal pulmonary maturity was assessed by measurement of pressure-volume relationships on the fetal lungs. Fetuses of glucose-intolerant does demonstrated less retention of air on deflation. Phospholipid components of pulmonary surfactant were assayed on fluid obtained from lavage of the fetal lungs. Levels of disaturated phosphatidylcholine (percent total-lavage phospholipids) were diminished in fetuses of glucose-intolerant does compared to control fetuses (20.5±4.2 vs 38.0±4.3%; P<0.01). Lecithin/sphingomyelin ratios were similar in both groups and phosphatidylglycerol was not detected in either group. There was a direct correlation between the percentage of alveolar disaturated phosphatidylcholine and retention of air on lung deflation. These findings suggest that in this model pulmonary instability was a result of diminished alveolar disaturated phosphatidylcholine, and this diminution did not result from fetal hyperinsulinemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-226
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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