Caffeine ameliorates hyperoxia-induced lung injury by protecting GCH1 function in neonatal rat pups


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BACKGROUND: Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a major morbidity in premature infants, and impaired angiogenesis is considered a major contributor to BPD. Early caffeine treatment decreases the incidence of BPD; the mechanism remains incompletely understood.MethodsSprague-Dawley rat pups exposed to normoxia or hyperoxia since birth were treated daily with either 20 mg/kg caffeine or normal saline by an intraperitoneal injection from day 2 of life. The lungs were obtained for studies at days 10 and 21. RESULTS: Hyperoxia impaired somatic growth and lung growth in the rat pups. The impaired lung growth during hyperoxia was associated with decreased levels of cyclic AMP (cAMP) and tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) in the lungs. Early caffeine treatment increased cAMP levels in the lungs of hyperoxia-exposed pups. Caffeine also increased the levels of phosphorylated endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) at serine(1177), total and serine(51) phosphorylated GTP cyclohydrolase 1 (GCH1), and BH4 levels, with improved alveolar structure and angiogenesis in hyperoxia-exposed lungs. Reduced GCH1 levels in hyperoxia were due, in part, to increased degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. CONCLUSION: Our data support the notion that early caffeine treatment can protect immature lungs from hyperoxia-induced damage by improving eNOS activity through increased BH4 bioavailability.Pediatric Research advance online publication, 24 May 2017; doi:10.1038/pr.2017.89.

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