Infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) are at high risk of postnatal mortality due to lung hypoplasia and arterial pulmonary hypertension. In severe cases, prenatal intervention by fetal endoscopic tracheal occlusion (FETO) can improve survival by accelerating lung growth. However, postnatal mortality remains in the range of about 50% despite fetal treatment, and there is currently no clear explanation for this different clinical response to FETO. We evaluated the concentration of extracellular vesicles (EVs) and associated microRNA expression in amniotic and tracheal fluids of fetuses with CDH undergoing FETO, and we examined the association between molecular findings and postnatal survival. We observed a higher count of EVs in the amniotic fluid of non-survivors and in the tracheal fluid sampled in utero at the time of reversal of tracheal occlusion, suggesting a pro-inflammatory lung reactivity that is already established in utero and that could be associated with a worse postnatal clinical course. In addition, we observed differential regulation of four EV-enclosed miRNAs (miR-379-5p, miR-889-3p; miR-223-3p; miR-503-5p) in relation to postnatal survival, with target genes possibly involved in altered lung development. Future research should investigate molecular therapeutic agents targeting differentially regulated miRNAs to normalize their expression and potentially improve clinical outcomes.
- extracellular vesicles
- fetal endoscopic tracheal occlusion (FETO)
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