Bilirubin as an antioxidant: Effect on group B streptococci-induced pulmonary hypertension in infant piglets

T. H. Pauly, M. Smith, M. Gillespie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Bilirubin scavenges toxic oxygen radicals in vitro, but it is not known whether this potential salutary effect can be extended to the intact animal. Accordingly, the present experiments tested the hypothesis that bilirubin protects against oxygen radical-dependent pulmonary hypertension and arterial hypoxemia in piglets infected with group B streptococci (GBS). Piglets ranging in age and weight from 7 to 14 days and 1.5 to 2.0kg, respectively were infused for 60 min with 108 cfu GBS/kg/min. One group of 7 animals was pretreated with a bolus infusion of 15mg/kg of bilirubin followed by a continuous bilirubin infusion. A second group of 7 animals was given the vehicle. While plasma bilirubin levels in control animals were negligible, administration of exogenous bilirubin was associated with plasma levels of 13.0 ± 0.74mg%. Piglets treated with exogenous bilirubin exhibited GBS-induced increases in pulmonary arterial pressure and decreases in PaO2 of 16.1 ± 2.0 and 46.5 ± 4.3 torr, respectively. In control animals, GBS increased pulmonary arterial pressure and decreased PaO2 by 17.5 ± 1.6 and 47.9 ± 3.2 torr, respectively. Neither the peak changes in pulmonary arterial pressure or PaO2 nor the time courses of these alterations differed between treatment groups. These observations indicate that bilirubin fails to prevent GBS-induced pulmonary hypertension and arterial hypoxemia in infant piglets and suggests that in this particular model bilirubin does not exhibit appreciable oxygen radical scavenging activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-326
Number of pages7
JournalBiology of the Neonate
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1991


  • Antioxidants
  • Bilirubin
  • Lung injury
  • Oxygen radicals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Biology


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