Premature induction of delivery in fetuses infused with graded doses of cortisol was brought about in 123.5 ± 7.7 h (mean ± SEM, n = 6) after the start of cortisol infusion. This treatment caused a rise in fetal plasma cortisol similar to that observed at normal delivery. Maternal and fetal progesterone and 20α-dihydroprogesterone concentrations decreased to basal levels during infusion of cortisol to the fetus. Induction of premature delivery was delayed or prevented by concomitant treatment of the ewe with progestagen. Maternal intramuscular injection of 100 mg progesterone, 2 times daily, prevented delivery in four of four ewes treated during the time that cortisol was infused into the fetus (11-13 days). Maternal plasma progesterone and 20α-dihydroprogesterone concentrations were maintained during this period, but fetal plasma progesterone concentrations decreased to the same extent as in the fetuses infused with cortisol alone. A single intramuscular injection of 250 mg of medroxyprogesterone acetate to ewes on the day before commencement of infusion of cortisol to the fetus prevented delivery in four of six ewes during the time that cortisol was infused for 9, 13, 14, and 15 days, respectively. One ewe delivered a live lamb at 133.5 h and another at 147.7 h after the start of infusion of cortisol to the fetus. Maternal and fetal plasma cortisol, progesterone, and 20α-dihydroprogesterone concentrations were similar to those observed during infusion of cortisol alone to the fetus. Although fetal cortisol concentrations rose in a similar fashion, and to a similar extent, in all three groups during infusion of cortisol to the fetus, fetal 11-desoxycortisol concentrations only rose above basal levels close to the time of delivery in cortisol-infused fetuses or, in the progestagen-treated groups, when the fetus showed signs of being stressed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)