Gestational changes in pulmonary converting enzyme activity in the fetal rabbit.
Changes in angiotensin-converting enzyme were measured in the lungs of fetal rabbits isolated and perfused in situ at varying ages from 22 days gestation to 7 days of age under controlled conditions of flow, pH, and temperature. Enzyme activity was assessed by infusing bradykinin or angiotensin I in Krebs-Henseleit solution and measuring residual peptide in the effluent by radioimmunoassay. The levels of substrate studied were below those required for enzyme saturation. Lungs of 22 day gestation fetuses removed only one-third of either peptide. The activity at term and in neonatal life resulted in more than 80% peptide removal. The time of the greatest rise in the percent substrate cleared occurs earlier than the time of the greatest increase in lung and body weight. The lower percentage of substrate cleared in early gestation appears to result in part from a limited surface area for enzyme activity in the primitive fetal pulmonary microvascular bed, since morphological studies with fluorescein-tagged anticonverting enzyme antibody demonstrated the presence of enzyme in the lung as early as 17 days of gestation. Electron micrographs of the pulmonary endothelial cell surface reveal that the degree of surface infolding and hence surface area increases with gestation. The higher percentage of substrate cleared in later gestation closely parallels the structural and ultrastructural development of the vascular bed. The presence of converting enzyme in the placenta by the second third of gestation and the large size of the placenta suggest that this organ may be a major locus of converting enzyme activity in the fetus.
- Copyright © 1978 by American Heart Association