Timothy Le Cras , PhD
Associate Dean of Graduate Education
Medical Sciences Building
COM Pediatrics Pulmonary Biology -
Postnatal Lung Development and Chronic Lung Disease in Premature Newborns: Chronic lung disease (also known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia) is a major cause of death and disability in premature babies. While improvements in neonatal care mean that morebabies survive premature birth, about half of these premature infants (born at ~26 weeks gestation) go on to develop chronic lung disease. In a normal baby, lung development continues for at least the first 2 years of life. The problem with premature birth is that it exposes a baby with very immature lungs to a number of potentially injurious stimuli, including infections and high oxygen levels. In fact, many of these babies have to be placed on ventilators to maintain their oxygenation and keep them alive, but these high levels of oxygen while keeping them alive, may ultimately contribute to the development of chronic lung disease. Chronic lung disease in these premature babies is thought to result from injury to the babies’ immature and still actively developing lungs. As a result, lung development (alveolar and vascular development) in these infants is disrupted and the babies suffer from poor gas exchange and can develop pulmonary hypertension, which can be fatal. What causes chronic lung disease in premature babies is poorly understood. The aim of the Le Cras laboratory is to understand the role of growth factors in newborn lung development. A major effort of our lab is understanding what role pro-angiogenic and angiostatic factors play in pulmonary vascular development and disease, and chronic lung disease in newborns. Both transgenic mouse models as well as cell culture studies are used to explore the role of growth factors and other signaling molecules in postnatal lung development and pulmonary vascular disease. Through research on the role of these growth factors we hope to develop therapies to aid and prevent chronic lung disease in premature infants.
Pulmonary Hypertension,Lung Growth,Development,Chronic Lung Disease of Infancy,Pulmonary Vascular Disease,Vascular Development