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Effects of loss of amniotic fluid on lung growth and maturation in rat fetuses Blachford, Karen Grace


This study was designed to examine the hypothesis that the amount of amniotic fluid present during gestation is critical to normal lung growth and maturation. On day 16 of gestation the amniotic sacs of the right or left uterine horns of timed pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were punctured with a 20 gauge needle. The fetuses of the opposite horn served as controls. On day 21 of gestation (one day prior to natural delivery) the fetuses were delivered by Cesarean section. An unbalanced, mixed model analysis of variance was performed on the data collected from each fetus. Probability values of less than 0.05 between control and experimental animals were considered significant. Amniotic sac puncture resulted in a significant loss of amniotic fluid as indicated by reduced amniotic fluid volume on day 21. Experimental body weight was significantly reduced indicating fetal growth retardation. Lung growth was also retarded as indicated by significantly reduced lung weight to body weight ratios and lung volume to body weight ratios following amniotic sac puncture. There was a reduction in the amount of fluid present within the experimental lungs. There appeared to be no significant effect on the structural units of the lung as indicated by no significant difference between control and experimental fetal lungs in terms of cell number, cell size, total protein to body weight ratio, maturation of type II cells, volume fraction of saccular air, saccular wall, conducting air and nonparenchyma, airspace size, saccular surface area to body weight ratio and surface to volume ratio. Thus, loss of amniotic fluid significantly affected lung growth, more than it affected overall body growth, without having an effect on lung maturation.

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