The rate of production of lung liquid in fetal goats, and the effect of expansion of the lungs

J Dev Physiol. 1985 Jun;7(3):149-60.


Fetal goats (95-155 days of gestation), delivered by Caesarian section, under chloralose (50 mg/kg), with intact umbilical cords, were monitored for lung fluid production by an impermeant tracer method. The average rate of production was 13.4 +/- 2.3 ml/h, or 6.0 +/- 0.9 ml/h per kg. Production rose exponentially towards birth, by both parameters, significant P less than 0.0001 (ml/h), or P less than 0.0005 (ml/h per kg). This indicated an increase in lung liquid production due to both growth and increased activity of the tissues. However, considerable individual variability, even between twins, suggested that this general pattern was modulated by physiological requirements. In 14 fetuses (plus 12 controls), expansion of the lungs with volumes of saline similar to those of the first inspirations (saline, 15-40 ml, matched to the optical density of the lung fluid; inspiration by spirometer, 20-25 ml), caused reduction of secretion or reabsorption of fluid. Secretion changed to reabsorption at about 50% expansion, and the probable physiological limit was estimated at 62-68% expansion. The logarithm of the % fall in production was linearly related to the % expansion (r = 0.88; P less than 0.0001); therefore, small expansions (equivalent to intrauterine breathing) would have little effect, but larger changes such as first breaths, would produce rapidly escalating effects. Controls showed no similar activity. Changes in Na+ and Cl- ions are in parallel to those of water. However, K+ ions moved into the lungs after expansion, in the opposite direction to Na+ ions, and against their concentration gradient. It is suggested that expansion of the lungs activates a Na+/K+ ATP-ase pump to aid reabsorption of salt and water at birth.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Fluids / metabolism*
  • Chlorides / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism*
  • Gestational Age
  • Goats / embryology
  • Lung / embryology
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Lung / physiology
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Sodium / metabolism


  • Chlorides
  • Sodium
  • Potassium