INTRODUCTION: Epidemiologic studies show that nutritional deficiency can alter lung development and have later adverse effects on lung function and respiratory health. Vitamin A is an important nutrient and is considered important in lung development and maturation. Additional studies are required to address whether vitamin A deficiency adversely affects lung development from early age to adulthood and whether such effects can be blocked or reversed.
OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to study the effect of vitamin A on lung development in the rat from early age to adulthood.
METHODS: Female rats were divided into control, marginal vitamin A deficiency (MVAD), and vitamin A intervention (VAI) groups. Control dams and pups were fed a normal diet (6500 U/kg vitamin A). MVAD rats were fed an MVAD diet (400 U/kg vitamin A). VAI rats were fed an MVAD diet until the birth of the pups and thereafter were fed with normal diet while the pups were given vitamin A through intragastric administration. All pups were killed at 8 weeks of age. Blood serum vitamin A levels were measured. Lungs were weighed and stained for light microscopy.
RESULTS: The vitamin A level of the MVAD group was lower than that of the control group. Lung weight of MVAD rats was lower than that of the controls. Morphometric measurements showed that the alveolar number in MVAD rats was less than that of the controls, and alveolar septa were thicker than those of the controls. All results in VAI group were better than those in the MVAD group and showed no difference from the controls.
CONCLUSIONS: Vitamin A status in early life can affect the lung development from early age to adulthood. Such effects can be reversed by dietary intervention after birth.
Submitted by Ting-Yu Li
- Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics