Subclinical decelerations during developing hypotension in preterm fetal sheep after acute on chronic lipopolysaccharide exposure

Christopher A. Lear, Joanne O. Davidson, Robert Galinsky, Caroline A. Yuill, Guido Wassink, Lindsea C. Booth, Paul P. Drury, Laura Bennet, Alistair J. Gunn

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Subclinical (shallow) heart rate decelerations occur during neonatal sepsis, but there is limited information on their relationship with hypotension or whether they occur before birth. We examined whether subclinical decelerations, a fall in fetal heart rate (FHR) that remained above 100 bpm, were associated with hypotension in preterm fetal sheep exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Chronically-instrumented fetal sheep at 0.7 gestation received continuous low-dose LPS infusions (n = 15, 100 ng/kg over 24 h, followed by 250 ng/kg/24 h for 96 h) or saline (n = 8). Boluses of 1 μg LPS or saline were given at 48 and 72 h. FHR variability (FHRV) was calculated, and sample asymmetry was used to assess the severity and frequency of decelerations. Low-dose LPS infusion did not affect FHR. After the first LPS bolus, 7 fetuses remained normotensive, while 8 developed hypotension (a fall in mean arterial blood pressure of ≥5 mmHg). Developing hypotension was associated with subclinical decelerations, with a corresponding increase in sample asymmetry and FHRV (p < 0.05). The second LPS bolus was associated with similar but attenuated changes in FHR and blood pressure (p < 0.05). In conclusion, subclinical decelerations are not consistently seen during prenatal exposure to LPS, but may be a useful marker of developing inflammation-related hypotension before birth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16201
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

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