We have investigated the acceleration of fetal lung maturity following glucocorticoid administration. Air-filling or saline-filling pressure-volume curves were obtained on fetal rhesus monkey lungs after treatment with betamethasone. With air filling there was a marked increase in the total lung capacity (ml air/g at 40 cmH2O) in the treated animals. By normalizing the curves and plotting volume as a percent maximal volume, we examined the shape of deflation curves, a common functional measure of surfactant activity. We found little difference in the shapes between control and steroid-treated animals. With saline filling there was also a similar increase in the lung capacity. As surface tension had a negligible effect on saline pressure-volume curves, we conclude that the primary functional effect of glucocorticoids on the fetal lung may not be an alteration of surface forces. Rather the glucocorticoids seem to accelerate maturity more by increasing lung compliance through structural changes that allow the lung to contain more air for equivalent transpulmonary pressures or pressure changes. This may occur either by increasing the distensibility of already inflatable alveoli or by recruiting new units.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Journal of Applied Physiology Respiratory Environmental and Exercise Physiology|
|State||Published - 1979|
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