Consequences of intrauterine growth restriction on ventilatory and thermoregulatory responses to asphyxia and hypercapnia in the newborn guinea-pig

Mary Tolcos, Sandra Rees, Hugh McGregor, David Walker

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The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of prenatal growth restriction on the ventilatory and thermoregulatory responses to asphyxia and hypercapnia in the newborn guinea-pig. Spontaneously growth-restricted (SGR) animals born to unoperated dams, and growth-retarded (GR) neonates born to dams in which a uterine artery had been ligated at mid gestation, were studied and compared with control neonates. Ventilatory responses to progressive asphyxia and steady-state hypercapnia were tested at 3-6 days of age using a barometric plethysmograph. The animals were then killed and the brains prepared for histological and immunohistochemical analysis. During progressive asphyxia, SGR neonates (n = 5) had a significantly increased minute ventilation compared with both control (n = 6) and GR (n = 5) neonates. Rectal temperature fell significantly in GR and SGR neonates after progressive asphyxia, but was unchanged in control neonates. The ventilatory responses to steady-state hypercapnia were not different in the GR, SGR and control neonates. The immunoreactive expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein, tyrosine hydroxylase, substance P and met-enkephalin in the medulla was also not different between the three groups. It was concluded that prenatal growth restriction is associated with alterations in the respiratory and thermoregulatory responses to asphyxia and hypercapnia, with greater effects observed when in utero growth restriction arises spontaneously, compared with that produced experimentally over approximately the last half of gestation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2002


  • Cardiorespiratory nuclei
  • Progressive asphyxia
  • Respiration
  • Steady-state hypercapnia

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