Glucocorticoid hormones play an important role in fetal lung maturation. It is unknown how they interact with changes in O2 tension, which play an important role in converting the lung from a fluid-secreting to a fluid-absorbing organ at birth. Airspace fluid absorption arises from active transepithelial Na+ transport with the amiloride-sensitive epithelial Na channel (ENaC), consisting of alpha, beta, and gamma subunits, representing the rate-limiting step under nonpathologic conditions. We investigated the individual and combined effects of dexamethasone (DEX) and PO2 on alphaENaC mRNA levels, rate of alphaENaC protein synthesis, and amiloride-sensitive short-circuit current in primary cultures of rat fetal distal lung epithelial cells. DEX significantly induced alphaENaC mRNA in fetal (3%) and postnatal (21%) O2, but increases in alphaENaC protein synthesis and function occurred only when epithelia were grown under a postnatal PO2. Sucrose density gradient analyses showed that DEX treatment of cells cultured at 3% O2 decreased the association of alphaENaC mRNA with large polysomes and enhanced the association with small polysomes. Conversely, incubation of DEX-treated cells in 21% O2 restored alphaENaC mRNA association with large polysomes. No significant changes were seen in the overall polyribosome profiles or in the distribution of mRNAs encoding beta and gamma subunits of ENaC or cytokeratin 18, indicating specific modulation of alphaENaC mRNA translation. These data suggest that postnatal O2 exposure may be important for efficient translation of the alphaENaC mRNA.
View details for DOI 10.1165/rcmb.2005-0273OC
View details for Web of Science ID 000235115700010
View details for PubMedID 16210692