Intrauterine inflammation exacerbates maladaptive remodeling of the immature myocardium after preterm birth in lambs

Amanda Vrselja, J. Jane Pillow, Jonathan G. Bensley, Stacey J. Ellery, Siavash Ahmadi-Noorbakhsh, Timothy J. Moss, M. Jane Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Antenatal conditions that are linked with preterm birth, such as intrauterine inflammation, can influence fetal cardiac development thereby rendering the heart more vulnerable to the effects of prematurity. We aimed to investigate the effect of intrauterine inflammation, consequent to lipopolysaccharide exposure, on postnatal cardiac growth and maturation in preterm lambs. Methods: Preterm lambs (~129 days gestational age) exposed antenatally to lipopolysaccharide or saline were managed according to contemporary neonatal care and studied at postnatal day 7. Age-matched fetal controls were studied at ~136 days gestational age. Cardiac tissue was sampled for molecular analyses and assessment of cardiac structure and cardiomyocyte maturation. Results: Lambs delivered preterm showed distinct ventricular differences in cardiomyocyte growth and maturation trajectories as well as remodeling of the left ventricular myocardium compared to fetal controls. Antenatal exposure to lipopolysaccharide resulted in further collagen deposition in the left ventricle and a greater presence of immune cells in the preterm heart. Conclusions: Adverse impacts of preterm birth on cardiac structure and cardiomyocyte growth kinetics within the first week of postnatal life are exacerbated by intrauterine inflammation. The maladaptive remodeling of the cardiac structure and perturbed cardiomyocyte growth likely contribute to the increased vulnerability to cardiac dysfunction following preterm birth. Impact: Preterm birth induces maladaptive cardiac remodeling and adversely impacts cardiomyocyte growth kinetics within the first week of life in sheep.These effects of prematurity on the heart are exacerbated when preterm birth is preceded by exposure to intrauterine inflammation, a common antecedent of preterm birth.Inflammatory injury to the fetal heart coupled with preterm birth consequently alters neonatal cardiac growth and maturation and thus, may potentially influence long-term cardiac function and health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1555-1565
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number6
Early online date11 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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