Oxidant stress responses in premature infants during exposure to hyperoxia

Pediatr Res. 1993 Sep;34(3):360-5. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199309000-00024.


To assess oxidant stress responses in newborn infants treated with elevated concentrations of oxygen, we measured plasma concentrations of glutathione (GSH) and glutathione disulfide (GSSG) in newborn infants ranging from 23 to 42 wk gestational age. All infants recruited into the study were mechanically ventilated and had catheters placed in their umbilical arteries as part of their normal clinical management. Blood samples were obtained on d 1, 3, and 5 and weekly thereafter or until the catheters were removed. We observed plasma concentrations of GSSG in these infants that were frequently an order of magnitude higher than the 0.1 to 0.3 microM we find in adults. Interestingly, plasma GSSG concentrations were inversely correlated to the inspired oxygen tensions. This effect appeared to arise from the patient selection criteria whereby, of the infants studied, those breathing the lowest partial pressures of oxygen were the smallest and gestationally youngest. A second observation was that plasma concentrations of GSH in the premature infants were substantially, indeed often dramatically, lower than we have observed in adult humans (6 to 10 microM). Finally, we found that in patients with both umbilical arterial and umbilical venous catheters arterial GSSG concentrations were consistently higher than venous concentrations; conversely, arterial GSH concentrations were lower than venous concentrations. The elevated GSSG concentrations we observed in these infants indicate marked oxidant stress responses in prematurely born infants, even in those infants exposed only to room air. The positive arteriovenous gradients of GSSG concentrations across the lungs of these infants suggest that at least some of the increased plasma GSSG originates in the lung.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Birth Weight
  • Gestational Age
  • Glutathione / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / blood
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / complications
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / congenital
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / drug therapy
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / blood*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen / adverse effects*
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration Disorders / blood
  • Respiration Disorders / complications
  • Respiration Disorders / congenital
  • Respiration Disorders / drug therapy
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Stress, Physiological / blood*
  • Stress, Physiological / etiology
  • Umbilical Arteries
  • Umbilical Veins


  • Biomarkers
  • Glutathione
  • Oxygen