Increased end-expiratory pressures improve lung function in near-term newborn rabbits with elevated airway liquid volume at birth

Erin V. McGillick*, Arjan B. te Pas, Michelle K. Croughan, Kelly J. Crossley, Megan J. Wallace, Katie Lee, Marta Thio, Philip L.J. DeKoninck, Janneke Dekker, Andreas W. Flemmer, Sophie J.E. Cramer, Stuart B. Hooper, Marcus J. Kitchen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Approximately 53% of near-term newborns admitted to intensive care experience respiratory distress. These newborns are commonly delivered by cesarean section and have elevated airway liquid volumes at birth, which can cause respiratory morbidity. We investigated the effect of providing respiratory support with a positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) of 8 cmH2O on lung function in newborn rabbit kittens with elevated airway liquid volumes at birth. Near-term rabbits (30 days; term = 32 days) with airway liquid volumes that corresponded to vaginal delivery (∼7 mL/kg, control, n = 11) or cesarean section [∼37 mL/kg; elevated liquid (EL), n = 11] were mechanically ventilated (tidal volume = 8 mL/kg). The PEEP was changed after lung aeration from 0 to 8 to 0 cmH2O (control, n = 6; EL, n = 6), and in a separate group of kittens, PEEP was changed after lung aeration from 8 to 0 to 8 cmH2O (control, n = 5; EL, n = 5). Lung function (ventilator parameters, compliance, lung gas volumes, and distribution of gas within the lung) was evaluated using plethysmography and synchrotron-based phase-contrast X-ray imaging. EL kittens initially receiving 0 cmH2O PEEP had reduced functional residual capacities and lung compliance, requiring higher inflation pressures to aerate the lung compared with control kittens. Commencing ventilation with 8 cmH2O PEEP mitigated the adverse effects of EL, increasing lung compliance, functional residual capacity, and the uniformity and distribution of lung aeration, but did not normalize aeration of the distal airways. Respiratory support with PEEP supports lung function in near-term newborn rabbits with elevated airway liquid volumes at birth who are at a greater risk of suffering respiratory distress.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY Term babies born by cesarean section have elevated airway liquid volumes, which predisposes them to respiratory distress. Treatments targeting molecular mechanisms to clear lung liquid are ineffective for term newborn respiratory distress. We showed that respiratory support with an end-expiratory pressure supports lung function in near-term rabbits with elevated airway liquid volumes at birth. This study provides further physiological understanding of lung function in newborns with elevated airway liquid volumes at risk of respiratory distress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1008
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Volume131
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2021

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