Intrauterine growth restriction affects diaphragm function in adult female and male mice

Maddison R Francis, Gavin J Pinniger, Peter B Noble, Kimberley C W Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: In utero diaphragm development is critically important for postnatal respiratory function and any disturbance to fetal development may lead to diaphragm dysfunction and respiratory complications in the postnatal period. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) has been shown to affect respiratory function in a sex-dependent manner; however, the effect of IUGR on diaphragm function is unknown.

AIM: This study used a maternal hypoxia-induced mouse model of IUGR to investigate the impact of IUGR on diaphragm function and structure in male and female adult offspring.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Pregnant BALB/c mice were housed under hypoxic conditions (10.5% O2 ) from gestational days 11 to 17.5 and then returned to normoxic conditions. Control mice were housed under normoxic conditions throughout pregnancy. At 8 weeks of age, offspring were euthanized and diaphragms isolated for functional assessment in organ bath experiments and for histological analysis.

RESULTS: IUGR offspring were lighter at birth and remained lighter at 8 weeks of age compared to Controls. While diaphragm force (maximal or twitch) was not affected by treatment or sex, the IUGR group exhibited a longer half-relaxation time after twitch contractions compared to Control. Female offspring had a lower maximum rate of force development and higher fatigue resistance compared to males, independent of IUGR. There was no difference in the diaphragm myofibre cross-sectional area between groups or sexes.

CONCLUSION: Sex and IUGR independently affect diaphragm contraction in adult mice without changes in structure. This study demonstrates that IUGR affects diaphragm contractile function in later life and could impair respiratory function if exacerbated under conditions of increased respiratory load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Pulmonology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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