Bioactive transforming growth factor-beta in the lungs of extremely low birthweight neonates predicts the need for home oxygen supplementation

Biol Neonate. 2000 May;77(4):217-23. doi: 10.1159/000014219.


Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) is a peptide implicated in tissue injury and repair but its role in the premature human lung remains unclear. In the present study, we used a TGF-beta responsive-promoter-luciferase construct in mink lung epithelial cells to quantify levels of biologically active TGF-beta (BA-TGF-beta) in the endotracheal aspirate (ETA) fluid from 16 extremely low birthweight neonates [6 M/10 F, mean GA 26 weeks (range 23-30), mean BW 774 g (range 555-1,075)]. ETA fluid was obtained on day 1 and then every 4 days up to 32 days. BA-TGF-beta levels were low (92 +/- 19 pg/ml) in the first 24 h of life and then increased 5- to 10-fold with peak BA-TGF-beta levels (400 +/- 50 pg/ml) on day 20-25. BA-TGF-beta levels were higher in male than female infants (p = 0.0056). Prenatal steroids decreased significantly the amount of BA-TGF-beta recovered. High initial levels of BA-TGF-beta persisted over time and were predictive of the need for oxygen therapy at home. We conclude that abundant BA- TGF-beta is present in the lungs of preterm infants and speculate that it may be involved in inflammatory and repair processes encountered in acute and chronic lung disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Cell Count
  • Female
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / metabolism*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Male
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use*
  • Prognosis
  • Respiration Disorders / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Oxygen