Effects of hyperthermia on uterine blood flow and shunting through uterine arteriovenous anastomoses in the late-pregnant ewe

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The effect of maternal hyperthermia on uterine blood flow (UBF) through the two main uterine arteries and on the proportion of UBF shunted through uterine arteriovenous anastomoses (AVAs) was investigated. Eight late-pregnant ewes were exposed to normothermic (22-23°C) or hyperthermic (approximately 39°C) ambient conditions for 8 h. UBF was measured in the left and right uterine arteries using flow probes and microspheres were injected into the uterine artery before, during and after the experimental period. The distribution of microspheres between the uterus and lungs was determined to calculate changes in capillary and AVA blood flows. Hyperthermia produced a significant (P<0.05) increase in maternal core temperature (+1.5°C), increase in maternal blood pH (+0.21; P<0.05) and decrease in maternal pCO2(-16.2 mmHg; P<0.05). Blood flow to the uterine horn ipsilateral to the corpus luteum (CL) remained unchanged during hyperthermia, whereas total UBF and blood flow to the contralateral uterine horn were significantly decreased (P<0.05), by 23.1% and 20.8%, respectively, of pre-heat control values. The proportion of UBF shunted through uterine AVAs during hyperthermia was not significantly different from values observed in normothermic ewes (21.9 ±0.7%). Mild to moderate hyperthermia in late-pregnant sheep induces respiratory alkalosis and decreases total blood flow to the uterus, brought about by a decrease in blood flow to the uterine horn contralateral, but not ipsilateral to the CL. Heat treatment does not alter the proportion of UBF traversing uterine AVAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Pregnant sheep

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