Several animal models have been proposed to study the pathophysiology of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). Surgical induction of CDH in fetal rabbits during the pseudoglandular phase has been shown to induce severe pulmonary hypoplasia, but functional studies in this model are scarce. We aimed to measure neonatal pulmonary impedance and related it to the severity of lung hypoplasia. CDH was surgically created in rabbits at 23 days of gestation. Following cesarean delivery at term (31 days) pups were subjected to measurement of total lung capacity (TLC), lung to body weight ratio (LBWR) and lung impedance by forced oscillation technique (FOT). Airway resistance (R aw). tissue elastance (HL), tissue damping (G L), and hysteresivity (η) (GL/HL) were calculated from impedance data. Twelve CDH fetuses and 15 controls were available for final analysis. LBWR and TLC were significantly lower in the CDH group compared to gestational and age matched controls (P < 0.001). R aw, HL, and GL were significantly increased in CCDH fetuses, η and HL best reflected lung hypoplasia (LBWR) (r2 = 0.42 and 0.43; P = 0.001), indicating a dominant contribution of lung tissue mechanics to CDH-induced lung hypoplasia. We successfully introduced lung impedance measurement by FOT in neonatal rabbits. Following surgical induction of CDH in the pseudoglandular phase, they have, next to morphological evidence of pulmonary hypoplasia, changes in lung mechanics. Our results for lung tissue mechanics support the concept of delayed pulmonary tissue modeling. We propose to employ functional studies in future experiments when evaluating prenatal interventions aimed at reversing pulmonary hypoplasia.
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