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Birth-related genomic and transcriptional changes in mouse lung:Modulation by transplacental N-acetylcysteine

Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.mrrev.2003.05.004
  • Birth
  • N-Acetylcysteine
  • Dna Adducts
  • Oxidative Dna Damage
  • Micronuclei
  • Multigene Expression
  • Cdna Array
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Birth is characterized by a sudden transition from the maternal-mediated respiration to the autonomous pulmonary respiration. Notwithstanding the importance of the involved functional and metabolic changes, little is known about possible DNA alterations occurring in the lung during the perinatal period. We comparatively evaluated genomic and transcriptional changes in the lung of fetuses and newborn Swiss albino mice, whose dams had either been untreated or treated with oral N-acetyl- l-cysteine (NAC) throughout the pregnancy period. In the less than 24 h period elapsing between the end of fetal life and the start of post-natal life, nucleotide alterations occurred in mouse lung, as shown by a significant increase of both bulky DNA adducts and 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine levels, detected by 32 P post-labeling procedures. The frequency of micronuclei in peripheral blood erythrocytes was not significantly increased after birth. Multigene expression analysis of 746 selected genes, by cDNA arrays, showed that 33 of them (4.4%) were upregulated in the lung of newborn mice, as compared with fetuses. The overexpressed genes were mainly involved in protective mechanism as a response to oxidative changes, alterations of glutathione metabolism, cellular stress, and damage to DNA and proteins. The transplacental treatment with NAC totally prevented birth-related genomic alterations in lung DNA. NAC did not change the basal gene expression in mouse fetal lung, but attenuated the upregulation of most genes involved in oxidative stress, stress response, and DNA repair in the lung of newborn mice. In fact, only 13 genes (1.7%) were overexpressed in newborns from NAC-treated dams. It therefore appears that administration of NAC during pregnancy is beneficial not only to counteract the adverse effects of toxic agents, as supported by previous studies, but also to attenuate birth-related DNA alterations.

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