Neonates with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) suffer from a diaphragmatic defect, lung hypoplasia, and pulmonary hypertension, with poor lung function forming the major clinical challenge. Despite prenatal diagnosis and advanced postnatal treatment strategies, the mortality rate of CDH is still high. CDH has been subject of extensive research over the past decades, but its etiology remains unknown. A major problem with CDH is the failure to predict the individual response to treatment modalities like high-frequency ventilation, inhaled nitric oxide, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. In this study, we tested the possibility that CDH lungs are surfactant protein deficient, which could explain the respiratory failure and difficulties in treating CDH infants. We investigated this hypothesis in the nitrofen-induced CDH rat model and assessed the cellular concentrations of surfactant protein (SP)-A, -B, and -C mRNA with a quantitative radioactive in situ hybridization technique. No differences were observed between control and CDH lungs for SP mRNA expression patterns. The cellular concentration (mean OD) of SP-A and SP-B mRNA was similar at all stages whereas the mean OD of SP-C mRNA and the volume fraction of cells (% Area) expressing SP mRNA was higher in CDH lungs at term. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed no differences between control and CDH lungs for SP protein expression. No differences in the mean OD or % Area for the SP mRNAs were found between the ipsi- and contralateral side of CDH lungs. We conclude that there is no primary deficiency of surfactant proteins in the nitrofen-induced CDH rat model.

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Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam