2009 Volume 55 Issue 3 Pages 208-214
Mild or marginal vitamin A deficiency (MVAD) is still a serious and widespread public health problem in pregnant women and children in developing countries. This study investigated rat lung maturation from prenatal to adult stage during pregnancy and postnatal MVAD and the recovery after postnatal vitamin A supplementation (VAS). Adult female rats and their offspring were randomized into three groups. 1. Control: the mothers and offspring received a normal diet.2. MVAD: The mothers and offspring received a MVAD diet.3. VAS: the mothers received MVAD diet till parturition, and then received the normal diet. The offspring of the VAS group were given low-dose vitamin A from postnatal day 1 to day 7 and received the normal diet after weaning. The lung development, structure, and collagen and elastic fiber of offspring were monitored by morphometric analysis at age 1 d, 2 and 8 wk, respectively. Lower body weight, lung weight, reduced numbers of alveoli and total alveolar surface area as well as increased alveoli septa thickness was observed in MVAD compared to that in the control animals. Increased collagen deposits and decreasing elastic fiber were found in MVAD rats. However, all of these were significantly improved in VAS-treated animals. These data suggest that the rat lung is sensitive to MVAD during the developing stage. Early postnatal vitamin A supplementation can partially restore the normal lung structure.