Neonatal hyperoxia increases sensitivity of adult mice to bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2013 Feb;48(2):258-66. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2012-0238OC. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


Supplemental oxygen used to treat infants born prematurely constitutes a major risk factor for long-term deficits in lung function and host defense against respiratory infections. Likewise, neonatal oxygen exposure results in alveolar simplification in adult mice, and enhances leukocyte recruitment and fibrosis when adult mice are infected with a sublethal dose of influenza A virus. Because pulmonary fibrosis was not observed in infected adult mice exposed to room air as neonates, previous neonatal oxygen exposure may have reprogrammed how the adult lung responds to epithelial injury. By administering bleomycin to adult mice exposed to room air or hyperoxia as neonates, we tested the hypothesis that neonatal hyperoxia enhances fibrosis when the epithelium is injured by direct fibrotic stimulus. Increased sensitivity to bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis was observed in adult mice exposed to neonatal hyperoxia, and was associated with increased numbers of leukocytes and an accumulation of active transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in the lung. Fate mapping of the respiratory epithelium revealed that the epithelial-mesenchymal transition was not a significant source of fibroblasts in room air-exposed or oxygen-exposed mice treated with bleomycin. Instead, the treatment of mice with anti-Gr-1 antibody that depletes neutrophils and myeloid-derived suppressor cells reduced the early activation of TGF-β1 and attenuated hyperoxia-enhanced fibrosis. Because bleomycin and influenza A virus both cause epithelial injury, understanding how neonatal hyperoxia reprograms the epithelial response to these two different injurious agents could lead to new therapeutic opportunities for treating lung diseases attributed to prematurity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • Hyperoxia / physiopathology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / chemically induced*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA Primers