• Local pulmonary drug delivery in the preterm rabbit: feasibility and efficacy of daily intratracheal injections.

      Salaets, Thomas; Gie, André; Jimenez, Julio; Aertgeerts, Margo; Gheysens, Olivier; Vande Velde, Greetje; Koole, Michel; Murgia, Xabi; Casiraghi, Costanza; Ricci, Francesca; et al. (American Physiological Society, 2019-01-24)
      Recent clinical trials in newborns have successfully used surfactant as a drug carrier for an active compound, to minimize systemic exposure. To investigate the translational potential of surfactant-compound mixtures and other local therapeutics, a relevant animal model is required in which intratracheal administration for maximal local deposition is technically possible and well tolerated. Preterm rabbit pups (born at 28 days of gestation) were exposed to either hyperoxia or normoxia and randomized to receive daily intratracheal surfactant, daily intratracheal saline, or no injections for 7 days. At day 7, the overall lung function and morphology were assessed. Efficacy in terms of distribution was assessed by micro-PET-CT on both day 0 and day 7. Lung function as well as parenchymal and vascular structure were altered by hyperoxia, thereby reproducing a phenotype reminiscent of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Neither intratracheal surfactant nor saline affected the survival or the hyperoxia-induced BPD phenotype of the pups. Using PET-CT, we demonstrate that 82.5% of the injected radioactive tracer goes and remains in the lungs, with a decrease of only 4% after 150 min. Surfactant and saline can safely and effectively be administered in spontaneously breathing preterm rabbits. The described model and method enable researchers to evaluate intratracheal pharmacological interventions for the treatment of BPD.
    • Physiological, Biochemical, and Biophysical Characterization of the Lung-Lavaged Spontaneously-Breathing Rabbit as a Model for Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

      Ricci, Francesca; Catozzi, Chiara; Murgia, Xabier; Rosa, Brenda; Amidani, Davide; Lorenzini, Luca; Bianco, Federico; Rivetti, Claudio; Catinella, Silvia; Villetti, Gino; et al. (2017)
      Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP) is a widely accepted technique of non-invasive respiratory support in spontaneously-breathing premature infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Surfactant administration techniques compatible with nCPAP ventilation strategy are actively investigated. Our aim is to set up and validate a respiratory distress animal model that can be managed on nCPAP suitable for surfactant administration techniques studies. Surfactant depletion was induced by bronchoalveolar lavages (BALs) on 18 adult rabbits. Full depletion was assessed by surfactant component analysis on the BALs samples. Animals were randomized into two groups: Control group (nCPAP only) and InSurE group, consisting of a bolus of surfactant (Poractant alfa, 200 mg/kg) followed by nCPAP. Arterial blood gases were monitored until animal sacrifice, 3 hours post treatment. Lung mechanics were evaluated just before and after BALs, at the time of treatment, and at the end of the procedure. Surfactant phospholipids and protein analysis as well as surface tension measurements on sequential BALs confirmed the efficacy of the surfactant depletion procedure. The InSurE group showed a significant improvement of blood oxygenation and lung mechanics. On the contrary, no signs of recovery were appreciated in animals treated with just nCPAP. The surfactant-depleted adult rabbit RDS model proved to be a valuable and efficient preclinical tool for mimicking the clinical scenario of preterm infants affected by mild/moderate RDS who spontaneously breathe and do not require mechanical ventilation. This population is of particular interest as potential target for the non-invasive administration of surfactant.
    • Surfactant replacement therapy in combination with different non-invasive ventilation techniques in spontaneously-breathing, surfactant-depleted adult rabbits.

      Ricci, Francesca; Casiraghi, Costanza; Storti, Matteo; D'Alò, Francesco; Catozzi, Chiara; Ciccimarra, Roberta; Ravanetti, Francesca; Cacchioli, Antonio; Villetti, Gino; Civelli, Maurizio; et al. (2018-01-01)
      Nasal intermittent positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) holds great potential as a primary ventilation support method for Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS). The use of NIPPV may also be of great value combined with minimally invasive surfactant delivery. Our aim was to implement an in vivo model of RDS, which can be managed with different non-invasive ventilation (NIV) strategies, including non-synchronized NIPPV, synchronized NIPPV (SNIPPV), and nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP). Forty-two surfactant-depleted adult rabbits were allocated in six different groups: three groups of animals were treated with only NIV for three hours (NIPPV, SNIPPV, and NCPAP groups), while three other groups were treated with surfactant (SF) followed by NIV (NIPPV+SF, SNIPPV+SF, and NCPAP+SF groups). Arterial gas exchange, ventilation indices, and dynamic compliance were assessed. Post-mortem the lungs were sampled for histological evaluation. Surfactant depletion was successfully achieved by repeated broncho-alveolar lavages (BALs). After BALs, all animals developed a moderate respiratory distress, which could not be reverted by merely applying NIV. Conversely, surfactant administration followed by NIV induced a rapid improvement of arterial oxygenation in all surfactant-treated groups. Breath synchronization was associated with a significantly better response in terms of gas exchange and dynamic compliance compared to non-synchronized NIPPV, showing also the lowest injury scores after histological assessment. The proposed in vivo model of surfactant deficiency was successfully managed with NCPAP, NIPPV, or SNIPPV; this model resembles a moderate respiratory distress and it is suitable for the preclinical testing of less invasive surfactant administration techniques.