We investigated the effects of maternal administration of Anoectochilus formosanus extract and dexamethasone on lung maturation in preterm rats. A. formosanus group mothers were tube-fed A. formosanus extract (300 mg/kg body wt./day) for 7 days from days 12-18 of gestation. Dexamethasone group mothers were injected intraperitoneally with dexamethasone (0.2 mg/kg body wt.) in saline on day 18 of gestation. Control group mothers were similarly injected with saline alone. On day 19 of gestation, fetuses were delivered by cesarean section. A. formosanus treatment significantly increased the fetal lung/body weight ratio, as compared to dexamethasone treatment. Saturated phosphatidylcholine levels in fetal lung tissue and growth hormone levels in maternal serum were significantly increased in the A. formosanus- and dexamethasone-treated groups as compared to controls. The histological appearance of preterm rat lungs revealed extensive branching of intermediate airways, denser mesenchyme, and more epithelial tubules in the dexamethasone and A. formosanus groups as compared with the control group. These results suggest that antenatal A. formosanus treatment may play a role in accelerating fetal rat lung maturation.
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