Effects of the plasticiser DEHP on lung of newborn rats: Catalase immunocytochemistry and morphometric analysis

Roberta Magliozzi, Roberta Nardacci, Gianfranco Scarsella, Valeria Di Carlo, Stefania Stefanini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experimental administration of di-(2-ethylexyl)-phthalate (DEHP), a plasticiser employed in the fabrication of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), causes increases in lipid metabolising enzymes along with marked peroxisomal proliferation. The effects are found in several mammalian tissues, of which the rodent liver is the most responsive target. Leakage of DEHP from PVC devices is favoured by high temperature and contact with lipid-containing biological fluids. Since preterm babies are currently ventilated through endotracheal PVC tubes, it seemed worthwhile to investigate DEHP effects on immature mammalian lung. In this research, female rats were fed with DEHP in the last week of pregnancy and after delivery, and lungs were excised from 2-day-old pups. At this age, in fact, rat lung histological features closely resemble those found in 24- to 36-week-old human fetuses. In treated animals, morphometric analysis of histological parameters revealed a dramatic decrease in the number of parenchymal airspaces, together with significant increases in their mean size. Moreover, cytochemical detection of the peroxisomal marker catalase revealed an increase in the number of type II pneumocytes. Our findings closely resemble abnormal histological features observed in autoptic lung specimens from children affected with chronic lung diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Immature lung
  • Peroxisome proliferator
  • Pneumocyte
  • Postnatal development
  • Pregnant rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Instrumentation


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