Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is considered by many to be an independent risk factor for poor neurodevelopment in premature infants. However, infants with BPD experience intermittent hypoxic episodes. This study was undertaken to determine whether intermittent hypoxic stress associated with BPD contributes to the development of neurological deficit. The model of BPD was produced in neonatal mice by exposure to hyperoxia (65% O2) for 4 weeks. Arterial blood gases, pulmonary mechanics, and histopathology were used to define the degree of lung injury. The mice were subjected to brief (10 min/day) and intermittent (10 days) hypoxic stress (8% O2) at different stages of the development of hyperoxia-induced lung injury. At 8 weeks of life, the neurofunction was assessed by water maze and rota-rod tests followed by cerebral morphological analysis using Nissl, bromodeoxyuridine, and caspase-3 immunostaining. Data were compared to naïve normoxic littermates and those mice that were exposed only to hyperoxia or intermittent hypoxia alone. Mice with BPD subjected to brief/intermittent hypoxia demonstrated a significantly poorer navigational memory performance as compared with normoxic mice and mice with BPD that were not subjected to intermittent hypoxia. The neurofunctional handicap in these mice was associated with significantly decreased brain weight and increased cerebral expression of caspase-3. Our results suggest that intermittent hypoxia associated with hyperoxia-induced lung injury, but not lung injury itself, results in significant neurological handicap in neonatal mice with BPD.
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia, neurological outcome
- Lung injury