Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is a clinical syndrome of unknown pathophysiology, occurring during the second half of pregnancy and persisting until delivery. The incidence of ICP varies from 0.1% to 1.5% of pregnancies in Europe, North America and Australia and from 9.2% to 15.6% in South American countries such as Bolivia and Chile. This syndrome has been associated with increased foetal distress, intrauterine death, premature delivery, perinatal mortality and, more recently, with the occurrence of respiratory distress syndrome in the newborn infant. Bile acids (BA) are supposed to be the main mediators for these complications because ICP seriously impairs the placental clearance of foetal BA leading to a dangerous accumulation of these compounds within the foetus and the newborn. Cholestatic pregnancies have to be considered high risk ones, recent reports showing that BA can interfere with surfactant metabolism and are particularly harmful for the developing lung. This review summarizes existing literature data on this topic with particular emphasis on bile acids-induced lung injury. The authors discuss possible mechanisms of lung damage and highlight future research perspectives in this field.
Keywords: Lung injury, neonate, bile acids, pneumonia, obstetric cholestasis
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