Surface tension, glutathione content and redox ratio of the tracheal aspirate fluid of premature infants with IRDS

Biol Neonate. 1998 Oct;74(4):281-8. doi: 10.1159/000014035.


Objective: Determination of the surface tension (ST), the total glutathione (GL) content and the ratio of oxidized glutathione (GSSG) to reduced glutathione (GSH) in the tracheal aspirate (TA) of newborn infants with IRDS.

Methods: The ST of the TA was determined by monitoring the fluid level pulsated in a capillary glass tube by means of a digitalized videocomputerized picture analysis program, a technique developed in our laboratory. The concentrations of GSSG and total GL in the TA were determined enzymatically with glutathione reductase. All results of laboratory tests were referred to the total phospholipid (PL) concentration. Patients, Experimental Material: TA samples were collected from 32 intubated premature and newborn infants admitted to the NICU with IRDS during the first 2 weeks of their lives. Control samples were obtained from 11 children prior to elective surgery.

Results: The ST relative to the PL content (surface tension index, STI) was significantly lower in the newborns with IRDS than in the control group, and the concentration of GSH in the TA was also markedly decreased in all IRDS infants studied. The concentration of GSSG and the ratio of GSSG to GSH were significantly higher in the severe cases and in those with an unfavourable prognosis. Surfactant treatment had a protective effect against oxidative stress, it induced a decrease in both the GSSG concentration and in the GL redox ratio (GSSG/GSH) in the TA. There was a close correlation between the GSH content and the STI value of the samples studied.

Conclusion: Oxidation and consequent depletion of GSH in the TA may be an aggravating factor in the development of the insufficient surface activity in intubated newborns with IRDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Fluids / chemistry*
  • Gestational Age
  • Glutathione / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / metabolism*
  • Suction
  • Surface Tension
  • Trachea / metabolism*


  • Glutathione