Differential effects of chronic intermittent and chronic constant hypoxia on postnatal growth and development

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2008 Jan;43(1):20-8. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20729.


Exposure to chronic constant or intermittent hypoxia (CCH or CIH) may have different effects on growth and development in early life. In this work, we exposed postnatal day 2 (P2) CD1 mice to CCH or CIH (11% O2) for 4 weeks and examined the effect of hypoxia on body and organ growth until P30. Regression analysis showed that weight increased in control, CCH and CIH cohorts with age with r2 values of 0.99, 0.97, and 0.94, respectively. Between days 2 and 30, slopes were 0.93+/-0.057, 0.76+/-0.108, and 0.63+/-0.061 (g/day, means+/-SEM) for control, CIH, and CCH, respectively and significantly different from each other (P<0.001). The slopes between P2 and P16 were 0.78+/-0.012, 0.46+/-0.002, and 0.47+/-0.019 for control, CCH and CIH, respectively. From P16 to 30, slopes were 1.12+/-0.033, 1.09+/-0.143, and 0.82+/-0.08 for control, CIH, and CCH, respectively with no significant difference from each other, suggesting a catch-up growth in the latter part of the hypoxic period. Slower weight gain resulted in a 12% and 23% lower body weight in CIH and CCH mice (P<0.001) by P30. Lung/body ratios were 0.010, 0.015, 0.015 for control, CIH, and CCH at P30, respectively. The decrease in liver, kidney, and brain weight were greater in CCH than CIH. Smaller liver weight was shown to be due to a reduction in cell size and cell number. Liver in CIH and CCH mice showed a 5% and 10% reduction in cell size (P<0.05) and a reduction of 28% in cell number (P<0.001) at P30. In contrast, CCH and CIH heart weight was 13% and 33% greater than control at P30 (P<0.05), respectively. This increase in the heart weight was due to an increase in the size of cardiomyocytes which showed an increase of 12% and 14% (P<0.001) for CIH and CCH, respectively as compared to control. Brain weight was 0.48 and 0.46 g for CIH and CCH, respectively (95% and 92% of normal). We concluded that (a) CIH and CCH follow different body and organ growth patterns; (b) mostly with CCH, the liver and kidneys are reduced in size in a proportionate way to body size but heart, lung, and brain are either spared or increased in size compared to body weight; and (c) the decrease in liver is secondary mostly to a decrease in cell number.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / growth & development*
  • Body Weight
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Cell Size
  • Female
  • Heart / growth & development
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / growth & development
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / growth & development
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / growth & development
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Organ Size
  • Time Factors