Investigators at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have identified a gene critical to lung maturation in newborns and the production of surfactant, which lines lung tissues and prevents the lungs from collapsing.
Mice without the Foxm1 gene progressed through early stages of lung development after the gene was deleted. However, the lungs did not completely mature. The immature lungs also did not produce two critical surfactant proteins (SP-A, SP-B) and the mice died shortly after birth from respiratory distress.
"Our findings demonstrate the Foxm1 gene’s central importance to lung maturation and surfactant production in mice," says Vladimir Kalinichenko, MD, PhD, a physician and researcher in the division of Pulmonary Biology at Cincinnati Children’s and the study’s senior investigator. "Ultimately, this information is important to newborn survival, as infants must breathe on their own at birth instead of getting oxygen from the mother’s umbilical cord blood."
Additionally, the researchers also wrote that, "identifying critical regulators of lung maturation, such as Foxm1, may provide novel strategies for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) in preterm infants."
The study is posted online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.