The effect of cortisol on rabbit fetal lung maturation in vitro

Jeanne M. Snyder, Carole R. Mendelson, John M. Johnston

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54 Scopus citations


Explants of lung tissue from 19-day gestational age fetal rabbits were maintained in organ culture in medium with or without fetal calf serum for 1 to 11 days. Based on the results of biochemical and morphological studies it was apparent that the type II pneumonocyte differentiated in vitro at a time similar to that which occurs with maturation in vivo. The epithelial cells of the presumptive alveoli were undifferentiated at the start of incubation, but within 9 days developed increased amounts of Golgi apparatus and rough endoplasmic reticulum, many microvilli on the luminal surface and numerous lamellar bodies. Secreted lamellar bodies and tubular myelin figures were observed in the lumina of cultured explants. The incorporation of [3H]choline into phosphatidylcholine by lung tissue explants maintained in medium containing 10% fetal calf serum remained relatively constant for 7 days of incubation but thereafter increased two-fold. When explants were maintained in fetal calf serum-containing medium and cortisol (10-7M) or betamethasone (10-7M), the incorporation of choline into phosphatidylcholine was two to three times greater than that of explants maintained in serum-containing medium without cortisol. When explants of fetal lung tissue were incubated in the presence of cortisol without fetal calf serum there was no stimulatory effect of cortisol on phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis. Therefore, serum cofactors are necessary for the stimulatory effects of cortisol on fetal lung development. The specific activity of phosphatidate phosphohydrolase (PAPase) increased to very high levels during the culture period. In the presence of serum, cortisol or betamethasone had no effect on the specific activity of phosphatidate phosphohydrolase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-140
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 15 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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