Pediatric Surgery International

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 1011–1015 | Cite as

Prenatal retinoic acid upregulates pulmonary gene expression of PI3K and AKT in nitrofen-induced pulmonary hypoplasia

  • Takashi Doi
  • Kaoru Sugimoto
  • Elke Ruttenstock
  • Jens Dingemann
  • Prem Puri
Original Article



The precise mechanism of pulmonary hypoplasia associated with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) still remains unclear. Recently, prenatal treatment with retinoic acid (RA) has been reported to stimulate alveologenesis in hypoplastic lungs in the nitrofen model of CDH. The serine/threonine protein kinase B (AKT) plays a key role in lung morphogenesis through epithelial–mesenchymal interaction in phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-dependent manner. It has been reported that the lung morphogenesis in explants in mice is interfered by inhibitors of PI3K–AKT signaling pathway. Furthermore, we have recently shown that nitrofen inhibits PI3K–AKT signaling during mid-to-late lung morphogenesis in the nitrofen-induced hypoplastic lung. We hypothesized that prenatal administration of RA upregulates pulmonary gene expression of PI3K and AKT in the nitrofen-induced hypoplastic lung.


Pregnant rats were exposed to either olive oil or nitrofen on day 9 of gestation (D9). 5 mg/kg of RA was given on D18, D19 and D20. The fetuses were harvested on D21, and fetal lungs were obtained and divided into four groups: control, control + RA, nitrofen, nitrofen + RA. The mRNA expression levels of PI3K and AKT were analyzed in each lung by real-time RT-PCR and statistically analyzed. Immunohistochemistry was also performed to evaluate protein expression of PI3K and AKT in the fetal lungs at D21.


The pulmonary gene expression levels of PI3K and AKT were significantly upregulated in nitrofen + RA group compared to nitrofen group and control + RA group (p < 0.05), whereas there were no significant differences between controls and control + RA group. Immunoreactivity of PI3K and AKT was markedly increased in nitrofen + RA lungs compared to nitrofen-induced hypoplastic lungs.


Upregulation of PI3K and AKT genes after prenatal treatment with RA in the nitrofen-induced hypoplastic lung suggests that RA may have a therapeutic potential in modulating lung alveologenesis by stimulating epithelial–mesenchymal interaction via PI3K–AKT signaling.


Retinoic acid Pulmonary hypoplasia Nitrofen PI3K AKT 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takashi Doi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kaoru Sugimoto
    • 1
  • Elke Ruttenstock
    • 1
  • Jens Dingemann
    • 1
  • Prem Puri
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Children’s Research CentreOur Lady’s Children’s HospitalDublin 12Ireland
  2. 2.Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, School of Medicine and Medical ScienceUniversity College DublinDublinIreland

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