The role of fetal adrenal hormones in the switch from fetal to adult globin synthesis in the sheep

E. M. Wintour, M. B. Smith, R. J. Bell, J. G. McDougall, M. N. Cauchi

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The switch from γ (fetal) to β (adult) globin production was studied by the analysis of globin synthesis in chronically cannulated ovine fetuses and newborn lambs. The γ/α globin synthesis ratio decreased from 0.98 ± 0.11 (S.D.) (n = 4 samples) at 100-120 days of gestation to 0.15 ± 0.07 (n = 4) in lambs of 150-156 days post-conception, and the β/α synthesis ratio increased from 0.04 ± 0.06 (n = 4) to 1.13 ± 0.21 (n = 4) over the same period. In bilaterally adrenalectomized fetuses, which survived in utero until 151-156 days, the γ/α and β/α synthesis ratios were 0.64 ± 0.14 (n = 3) and 0.25 ± 0.07 (n = 3) respectively in the 150- to 156-day period. Bilateral adrenalectomy did not affect the time of onset of β globin synthesis, but significantly decreased the rate. In one bilaterally adrenalectomized fetus the infusion of increasing concentrations of cortisol restored the rate of β globin synthesis to normal. Treatment of three intact fetuses with 100 μg cortisol/h for 3 weeks, from 100 to 121 days, did not affect the timing or rate of switch from γ to β globin synthesis. Thus fetal adrenal secretions, probably cortisol, affected the rate of change of γ to β globin synthesis but other factors must have been involved in the initiation of the switch.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-170
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1985

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