OBJECTIVE: We tested the hypothesis that betamethasone is more potent than dexamethasone in inducing the essential mechanisms of parturition in sheep. METHODS: Twenty-one sheep were instrumented under general anesthesia with maternal and fetal arterial and venous catheters and myometrial electromyogram electrodes at 117 days' gestation (dGA). At 125 dGA at 12:00 PM, after 2 days of baseline recording, either saline (n = 7, control group, betamethasone (n = 7), or dexamethasone (n = 7) was administered into the fetal jugular vein at a rate of 10 μg/hour. A total dose of 0.48 mg was given over the next 48 hours. The animals underwent autopsy 3 days after the end of the infusion period (130 dGA), or earlier if labor resulted from the glucocorticoid administration. Daily maternal and fetal arterial blood samples (4 mL) for hormone measurement were taken at 10:00 AM throughout the study period. Additional arterial blood samples were taken if the animal developed labor. Maternal plasma progesterone and fetal ACTH and cortisol concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay, and corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) binding capacity was determined by saturation analysis. Myometrial activity was monitored continuously throughout the experimental protocol. RESULTS: All seven betamethasone-treated developed labor after the glucocorticoid infusion regimen. In contrast, only two of seven dexamethasone-treated animals developed labor. Fetal treatment with betamethasone produced a greater and earlier fall in maternal plasma progesterone than fetal treatment with dexamethasone. Both betamethasone and dexamethasone treatments elevated fetal plasma CBG to similar binding capacities. Elevated fetal plasma ACTH and cortisol concentrations at the end of the infusion period in both betamethasone- and dexamethasone-treated animals were not related to the development of labor-type contractions. CONCLUSION: These data support the hypothesis that betamethasone is more potent than dexamethasone in inducing the essential mechanisms of parturition in sheep.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Journal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation|
|State||Published - Nov 1996|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology