Preparation for birth into an O2-rich environment: the antioxidant enzymes in the developing rabbit lung

Pediatr Res. 1984 Mar;18(3):240-4. doi: 10.1203/00006450-198403000-00004.


To determine if some specific "preparation for birth" occurs in the developing lung to help assure its successful adaptation to a comparatively O2-rich world at birth, we measured the activities of the antioxidant enzymes in the developing lungs of rabbit fetuses from 10 d before parturition to several days after birth. Superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GP) activities showed similar maturational patterns with significant increases in activity, compared with earlier gestational levels, during the last 3-5 d before birth. During the final days in utero, SOD and CAT activities increased by approximately 110% and lung GP activity by approximately 200%. There were no parallel changes in lung O2 consumption demonstrable over this same prenatal period.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Catalase / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fetal Organ Maturity
  • Fetus / enzymology
  • Gestational Age
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism*
  • Lung / embryology
  • Lung / enzymology*
  • Oxygen
  • Pregnancy
  • Rabbits
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism*


  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Oxygen