Fetal asphyxia stimulated an increase in fetal plasma catecholamines and [Met]-enkephalin-arg6-phe7 in the late-gestation sheep fetus

C. L. Coulter, A. S. Giraud, S. B. Hooper, L. Parker, I. C. McMillen

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We have investigated whether enkephalin-containing peptides and catecholamines are increased in fetal plasma during periods of reduced uterine blood flow which produce moderate fetal asphyxia (i.e. hypoxemia, hypercapnia and acidemia). Experiments (n=16) were performed in 11 ewes between 121-139 days gestation. In 8 experiments a clamp placed around the common artery of the ewe was adjusted to produce a 50% reduction in the partial pressure of arterial oxygen (PO2) in fetal plasma for 30 min between 121-125 days gestation (n=4) and between 131-139 days gestation (n=4). Control (n=8) experiments were performed when the arterial clamp was not adjusted. There was no significant effect of asphyxia on fetal plasma noradrenaline concentrations before 126 days gestation. After 130 days gestation during asphyxia, fetal plasma noradrenaline concentrations increased significantly from 2.20 ± 0.72 pmol/ml (-15 min) to 14.06 ± 0.75 pmol/ml (+5 min). The fetal adrenaline response to asphyxia did not change with increasing gestational age and after 130 days gestation fetal plasma adrenaline increased significantly from 1.48 ± 0.46 pmol/ml (-15 min) to 4.05 ± 1.22 pmol/ml (+10 min). Met-enkephalin-arg6-phe7 immunoreactivity was measurable (25-117 pg/ml) in all pre-experimental fetal sheep plasma samples collected between 121-139 days gestation. There was no specific effect of asphyxia on fetal plasma [Met]-enkephalin-arg6-phe7-IR before 130 days gestation. However after 130 days gestation, there was a significant increase in fetal plasma [Met]-enkephalin-arg6-phe7-IR above baseline values, when compared to control experiments. The site of release and role of enkephalin-peptides released during asphyxia remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-272
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Developmental Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1990

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