Impact of resveratrol-mediated increase in uterine artery blood flow on fetal haemodynamics, blood pressure and oxygenation in sheep

Tanroop Aujla, Jack R.T. Darby, Brahmdeep S. Saini, Mitchell C. Lock, Stacey L. Holman, Emma L. Bradshaw, Sunthara R. Perumal, Steven J.P. McInnes, Nicolas H. Voelcker, Michael D. Wiese, Christopher K. Macgowan, Mike Seed, Janna L. Morrison

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New Findings: What is the central question of this study? Uterine artery blood flow helps to maintain fetal oxygen and nutrient delivery. We investigated the effects of increased uterine artery blood flow mediated by resveratrol on fetal growth, haemodynamics, blood pressure regulation and oxygenation in pregnant sheep. What is the main finding and its importance? Fetuses from resveratrol-treated ewes were significantly larger and exhibited a haemodynamic profile that might promote peripheral growth. Absolute uterine artery blood flow was positively correlated with umbilical vein oxygen saturation, absolute fetal oxygen delivery and fetal growth. Increasing uterine artery blood flow with compounds such as resveratrol might have clinical significance for pregnancy conditions in which fetal growth and oxygenation are compromised. Abstract: High placental vascular resistance hinders uterine artery (UtA) blood flow and fetal substrate delivery. In the same group of animals as the present study, we have previously shown that resveratrol (RSV) increases UtA blood flow, fetal weight and oxygenation in an ovine model of human pregnancy. However, the mechanisms behind changes in growth and the effects of increases in UtA blood flow on fetal circulatory physiology have yet to be investigated. Twin-bearing ewes received s.c. vehicle (VEH, n = 5) or RSV (n = 6) delivery systems at 113 days of gestation (term = 150 days). Magnetic resonance imaging was performed at 123−124 days to quantify fetal volume, blood flow and oxygen saturation of major fetal vessels. At 128 days, i.v. infusions of sodium nitroprusside and phenylephrine were administered to study the vascular tone of the fetal descending aorta. Maternal RSV increased fetal body volume (P = 0.0075) and weight (P = 0.0358), with no change in brain volume or brain weight. There was a positive relationship between absolute UtA blood flow and umbilical vein oxygen saturation, absolute fetal oxygen delivery and combined fetal twin volume (all P ≤ 0.05). There were no differences between groups in fetal haemodynamics or blood pressure regulation except for higher blood flow to the lower body in RSV fetuses (P = 0.0170). The observed increase in fetal weight might be helpful in pregnancy conditions in which fetal growth and oxygen delivery are compromised. Further preclinical investigations on the mechanism(s) accounting for these changes and the potential to improve growth in complicated pregnancies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1166-1180
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • blood pressure
  • fetus
  • haemodynamics
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • oxygenation
  • phase contrast
  • resveratrol
  • T2 oximetry

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