Development of the pulmonary circulation is a complex process with a spatial pattern that is tightly controlled. This process is vulnerable for disruption by various events in the prenatal and early postnatal periods. Disruption of normal pulmonary vascular development leads to abnormal structure and function of the lung vasculature, causing neonatal pulmonary vascular diseases. Premature babies are especially at risk of the development of these diseases, including persistent pulmonary hypertension and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Reactive oxygen species play a key role in the pathogenesis of neonatal pulmonary vascular diseases and can be caused by hyperoxia, mechanical ventilation, hypoxia, and inflammation. Besides the well-established short-term consequences, exposure of the developing lung to injurious stimuli in the perinatal period, including oxidative stress, may also contribute to the development of pulmonary vascular diseases later in life, through so-called ‘‘fetal or perinatal programming.’’ Because of these long-term consequences, it is important to develop a follow-up program tailored to adolescent survivors of neonatal pulmonary vascular diseases, aimed at early detection of adult pulmonary vascular diseases, and thereby opening the possibility of early intervention and interfering with disease progression. This review focuses on pathophysiologic events in the perinatal period that have been shown to disrupt human normal pulmonary vascular development, leading to neonatal pulmonary vascular diseases that can extend even into adulthood. This knowledge may be particularly important for expremature adults who are at risk of the long-term consequences of pulmonary vascular diseases, thereby contributing disproportionately to the burden of adult cardiovascular disease in the future.

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Pulmonary Circulation
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Wijs-Meijler, D., Duncker, D., Tibboel, D., Schermuly, R. T., Weissmann, N., Merkus, D., & Reiss, I. (2017). Oxidative injury of the pulmonary circulation in the perinatal period: Short- and long-term consequences for the human cardiopulmonary system. Pulmonary Circulation (Vol. 7, pp. 55–66). doi:10.1086/689748