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‘Infants born preterm could lack key lung cells later in life’

9 June, 2017

‘Infants born preterm could lack key lung cells later in life’

Mice born into an oxygen-rich environment respond worse to the flu once fully grown, due to an absence of certain lung cells, according to researchers. 

They claim the discovery provides a potential explanation for preterm infants' added susceptibility to influenza and other lung diseases later in their lives.
When newborn mice are exposed to extra oxygen at birth - which causes their lungs to respond and develop similarly to those of preterm infants - they end up with far fewer of these cells once they reach adulthood.

Once exposed to influenza virus as adults, these mice then developed a much more severe disease than mice born in a traditional oxygen environment.

Michael O'Reilly, one of the authors, said: ‘We don't know if this is exactly what happens in preterm infants. 

‘But we do know that there's a direct correlation between the loss of these cells and an inferior response to lung disease, and we do know that there's something about that early oxygen-rich environment that causes a mouse to respond poorly to viral infection later in life. So this helps connect those dots.’

The team behind the research is from the University of Rochester Medical Center and the paper has been published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.

To read the abstract, click here.

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