Spontaneously occurring differences in fetal weight do not affect blood pressure, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis or the renin-angiotensin system in the late-gestation ovine fetus

Megan Elizabeth Probyn, Victoria Stacy, Mina Desai, Michael Ross, Richard Harding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Fetal growth restriction (FGR) has been associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease in adult life. Animal models of restricted fetal growth often cause FGR over discrete periods of gestation and hence may not be applicable to individuals with low birthweight but who are not clinically growth-restricted. Our aim was to determine whether spontaneously occurring differences in fetal growth influence the functional development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis or the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), both of which are involved in arterial pressure regulation. Using sheep, arterial pressure and heart rate were monitored in chronically catheterised singleton and twin fetuses at 130, 134 and 137 days of gestation (term 147 days). Fetuses were challenged, at different times, with exogenous angiotensin (Ang) II, combined administration of arginine vasopressin and corticotrophin releasing hormone (AVP+CRH) and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH); fetal cardiovascular responses and circulating cortisol concentrations were measured. In all fetuses Ang II and AVP+CRH altered cardiovascular function (increase in mean arterial pressure and decrease in heart rate); both AVP+CRH and ACTH increased circulating cortisol concentrations. Responses were not related to fetal bodyweight. We conclude that naturally occurring differences in growth do not influence the development of the HPA axis or RAS function in fetal sheep.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451 - 459
Number of pages9
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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