Respiratory complications are the major cause of morbidity and mortality among preterm infants, which is partially prevented by the administration of antenatal corticosteroids (ACS). Most very preterm infants are exposed to chorioamnionitis, but short- and long-term effects of ACS treatment in this setting are not well defined. In low-resource settings, ACS increased neonatal mortality by perhaps increasing infection. We report that treatment with low-dose ACS in the setting of inflammation induced by intraamniotic lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in rhesus macaques improves lung compliance and increases surfactant production relative to either exposure alone. RNA sequencing shows that these changes are mediated by suppression of proliferation and induction of mesenchymal cellular death via TP53. The combined exposure results in a mature-like transcriptomic profile with inhibition of extracellular matrix development by suppression of collagen genes COL1A1, COL1A2, and COL3A1 and regulators of lung development FGF9 and FGF10. ACS and inflammation also suppressed signature genes associated with proliferative mesenchymal progenitors similar to the term gestation lung. Treatment with ACS in the setting of inflammation may result in early respiratory advantage to preterm infants, but this advantage may come at a risk of abnormal extracellular matrix development, which may be associated with increased risk of chronic lung disease.
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