Research Project: Determing Selenium’s Role in Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
basic biologic mechanisms
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD) is the leading cause of lung problems in premature babies. BPD is caused by exposure to high oxygen levels (hyperoxia) and poor antioxidant defenses. Selenium is a nutritional element that is needed for antioxidant defense. Selenium deficiency is common in premature babies and is a risk factor for BPD development. Infants who develop BPD have a high risk of life-long lung problems. We will study selenium in a mouse model of BPD. These studies will lead to better understanding of the ways in which selenium contributes to lung development, antioxidant responses, and BPD. By defining the role of selenium, we can better develop therapies to prevent BPD development in premature babies.
Using a selenium-deficient diet in our mouse model of BPD, our initial studies found that selenium-deficient newborn mice had increased mortality. In the mice who survived, we found the the lung’s tiny air sacs, the alveoli, did not develop normally. We continue to study how selenium deficiency leads to increased mortality and abnormal lung development from exposure to too much oxygen.