The anti-inflammatory agent N-acetyl cysteine exacerbates endotoxin-induced hypoxemia and hypotension and induces polycythemia in the ovine fetus

Megan Elizabeth Probyn, Megan Louise Cock, Jhodie R Duncan, Mary Tolcos, Nadia Hale, Amy Shields, Sandra M Rees, Richard Harding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) delivered acutely to the ovine fetus induces cerebral white matter injury and brain inflammation. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is potentially neuroprotective as it blocks the production of inflammatory cytokines and increases glutathione levels; however, it is unknown whether NAC affects the physiological status of the fetus already exposed to an inflammatory environment. Objectives: Our objective was to determine whether NAC influences the physiological effects of LPS exposure in the ovine fetus. Methods: Catheterized fetal sheep underwent one of four treatments (saline, n = 6; LPS, n = 6; LPS + NAC, n = 6; NAC, n = 3) on 5 consecutive days from 95 days of gestation (term approximately 147 days). Fetal arterial pressure and heart rate were recorded and blood samples collected. Results: LPS administration resulted in fetal hypoxemia and hypotension; simultaneous treatment with NAC exacerbated these effects and induced polycythemia. NAC treatment alone had no effect on the fetus. Conclusion: In the presence of LPS, NAC compromises fetal physiological status, suggesting that it may not be a suitable antenatal treatment for a fetus with evidence of inflammation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118 - 127
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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