Research: Intra-Amniotic Sildenafil Treatment Promotes Lung Growth and Attenuates Vascular Remodeling in an Experimental Model of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia.

Fetal Diagn Ther. 2020 Jul 14:1-13. doi: 10.1159/000508986. [Epub ahead of print]

Intra-Amniotic Sildenafil Treatment Promotes Lung Growth and Attenuates Vascular Remodeling in an Experimental Model of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia.

Okolo F1Zhang G2Rhodes J2Gittes GK3Potoka DA2.

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Defective lung development resulting in lung hypoplasia and an attenuated and hypermuscularized pulmonary vasculature contributes to significant postnatal mortality in congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). We hypothesize that deficient embryonic pulmonary blood flow contributes to defective lung development in CDH, which may therefore be ameliorated via enhancement of embryonic pulmonary blood flow.


The mouse nitrofen model of CDH was utilized to measure embryonic pulmonary blood flow by in utero intracardiac injection of FITC-labeled tomato lectin and color-flow Doppler ultrasound. The effect of prenatal intra-amniotic treatment with sildenafil on survival, lung growth, and vascular morphology in the nitrofen model was determined.


Nitrofen-treated embryos exhibited decreased blood flow in the lung periphery compared to controls, and intra-amniotic sildenafil significantly improved embryonic pulmonary blood flow. Similar to nitrofen alone, pups delivered after nitrofen treatment and intra-amniotic injection of dextrose control exhibited respiratory distress and never survived beyond 6 h. Intra-amniotic sildenafil ameliorated respiratory distress in nitrofen-treated pups and improved postnatal survival to 82%. Following intra-amniotic sildenafil treatment at embryonic day (E)10.5, nitrofen-treated P0 lungs were larger with increased left lobe weight, reduced small pulmonary arterial wall muscularization, and increased airway branching complexity compared to controls. Intra-amniotic sildenafil treatment later at E15.5 also resulted in improved survival, lung growth, and attenuation of vascular remodeling in nitrofen-treated embryos.


Defective embryonic pulmonary blood flow may contribute to lung maldevelopment in CDH. Enhancement of embryonic pulmonary blood flow via intra-amniotic sildenafil results in lung growth and attenuation of pulmonary vascular remodeling and may have therapeutic potential for CDH.

© 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel.


Congenital diaphragmatic hernia; Lung development: nitrofen model; Prenatal therapy; SildenafilPMID: 32663823 DOI: 10.1159/000508986

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