The carotid body (CB) substantially influences breathing in premature infants by affecting the frequency of apnea and periodic breathing. In adult animals, inflammation alters the structure and chemosensitivity of the CB, yet it is not known if this pertains to neonates. We hypothesized that early postnatal inflammation leads to morphological and functional changes in the developing rat CB, which persists for one week after the initial provoking insult. To test our hypothesis, we exposed rat pups at postnatal day 2 (P2) to lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 100 µg/kg) or saline (SAL) intraperitoneally (IP). At postnatal day 9-10 (P9-10, one week after treatment), LPS exposed animals had significantly more spontaneous intermittent hypoxic (IH) events, attenuated ventilatory responses to changes in oxygen tension (measured by whole body plethysmography), and attenuated hypoxic chemosensitivity of the carotid sinus nerve (measured in vitro), when compared to SAL exposed controls. These functional changes were associated with: 1) increased inflammatory cytokine mRNA levels, 2) decreased volume of supportive Type II cells, and 3) elevated dopamine levels (a major inhibitory neuromodulator) within the CB. These findings suggest that early postnatal inflammation in newborn rats adversely affects the structure and function of the CB, and is associated with increased frequency of intermittent desaturations, similar to the phenomenon observed in premature infants. Furthermore, this is the first newborn model of spontaneous intermittent desaturations that may be used to understand the mechanisms contributing to IH events in newborns.
- Carotid body
- mast cells
- intermittent hypoxia
- premature infants
- Copyright © 2015, Journal of Applied Physiology