Premature birth interrupts the development of the lung, resulting in functional deficiencies and the onset of complex pathologies, like bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), that further decrease the functional capabilities of the immature lung. The dysregulation of molecular targets has been implicated in the presentation of BPD, but there is currently no method to correlate resultant morphological changes observed in tissue histology with these perturbations to differences in function throughout saccular and alveolar lung development. Lung compliance is an aggregate measure of the lung's mechanical properties that is highly sensitive to a number of molecular, cellular, and architectural characteristics, but little is known about compliance in the neonatal mouse lung due to measurement challenges. We have developed a novel method to quantify changes in lung volume and pressure to determine inspiratory and expiratory compliance throughout neonatal mouse lung development. The compliance measurements obtained were validated against compliance values from published studies using mature lungs following enzymatic degradation of the extracellular matrix (ECM). The system was then used to quantify changes in compliance that occurred over the entire span of neonatal mouse lung development. These methods fill a critically important gap connecting powerful mouse models of development and disease to measures of functional lung mechanics critical to respiration and enable insights genetic, molecular, and cellular underpinnings of BPD pathology and improve lung function in premature infants.

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