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Journal Article

The Robyn Barst Memorial Lecture: Differences between the fetal, newborn, and adult pulmonary circulations: relevance for age-specific therapies (2013 Grover Conference series)

Steven H. Abman, Christopher Baker, Jason Gien, Peter Mourani and Csaba Galambos
Pulmonary Circulation
Vol. 4, No. 3 (September 2014), pp. 424-440
DOI: 10.1086/677371
Stable URL:
Page Count: 17
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AbstractPulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) contributes to poor outcomes in diverse diseases in newborns, infants, and children. Many aspects of pediatric PAH parallel the pathophysiology and disease courses observed in adult patients; however, critical maturational differences exist that contribute to distinct outcomes and therapeutic responses in children. In comparison with adult PAH, disruption of lung vascular growth and development, or angiogenesis, plays an especially prominent role in the pathobiology of pediatric PAH. In children, abnormalities of lung vascular development have consequences well beyond the adverse hemodynamic effects of PAH alone. The developing endothelium also plays critical roles in development of the distal airspace, establishing lung surface area for gas exchange and maintenance of lung structure throughout postnatal life through angiocrine signaling. Impaired functional and structural adaptations of the pulmonary circulation during the transition from fetal to postnatal life contribute significantly to poor outcomes in such disorders as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, Down syndrome, and forms of congenital heart disease. In addition, several studies support the hypothesis that early perinatal events that alter lung vascular growth or function may set the stage for increased susceptibility to PAH in adult patients (“fetal programming”). Thus, insights into basic mechanisms underlying unique features of the developing pulmonary circulation, especially as related to preservation of endothelial survival and function, may provide unique therapeutic windows and distinct strategies to improve short- and long-term outcomes of children with PAH.

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