Active ion transport plays a critical role in the liquid movement across the fetal and perinatal lung epithelium. The fetal lung liquid production is coupled with active secretion of Cl- into the luminal space. The potential for fluid absorbing mechanisms related to active Na+ transport from the apical to the basolateral side of the epithelium appears near the end of gestation. At birth there is a dramatic change of environment with commencement of air-breathing, sudden increase in oxygen partial pressure (PO2) and profound changes in the pulmonary circulation. A concurrent switch from fluid secretion to maintenance of low amounts of alveolar fluid is another major physiological adjustment taking place in the perinatal distal lung epithelium. The fluid-absorbing mechanism is a result of a well-synchronized co-operation between the basolateral membrane Na-K-ATPase and the apical membrane Na+ channels and it promotes salt and water movement from the airspace. Inability of the fetal lung epithelium to switch from fluid secretion to Na+ transport-dependent absorption seems to be an important factor adversely contributing to the respiratory distress of the newborn premature infant.
View details for Web of Science ID 000073666600002
View details for PubMedID 9667791