Background: Early pulmonary oxygen exposure is one of the most important factors implicated in the development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
Methods: Here, we analyzed short- and long-term effects of neonatal hyperoxia on NOS3 and STAT3 expression and corresponding epigenetic signatures using a hyperoxia-based mouse model of BPD.
Results: Early hyperoxia exposure led to a significant increase in NOS3 (median fold change × 2.37, IQR 1.54-3.68) and STAT3 (median fold change × 2.83, IQR 2.21-3.88) mRNA levels in pulmonary endothelial cells with corresponding changes in histone modification patterns such as H2aZac and H3K9ac hyperacetylation at the respective gene loci. No complete restoration in histone signatures at these loci was observed, and responsivity to later hyperoxia was altered in mouse lungs. In vitro, histone signatures in human aortic endothelial cells (HAEC) remained altered for several weeks after an initial long-term exposure to trichostatin A. This was associated with a substantial increase in baseline eNOS (median 27.2, IQR 22.3-35.6) and STAT3α (median 5.8, IQR 4.8-7.3) mRNA levels with a subsequent significant reduction in eNOS expression upon exposure to hypoxia.
Conclusions: Early hyperoxia induced permanent changes in histones signatures at the NOS3 and STAT3 gene locus might partly explain the altered vascular response patterns in children with BPD.