Maternal undernutrition from early- to mid-gestation leads to growth retardation, cardiac ventricular hypertrophy, and increased liver weight in the fetal sheep

Kimberly A. Vonnahme, Bret W. Hess, Thomas R. Hansen, Richard J. McCormick, Daniel C. Rule, Gary E. Moss, William J. Murdoch, Mark J. Nijland, Donal C. Skinner, Peter W. Nathanielsz, Stephen P. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations

Abstract

Early gestation is critical for placentomal growth, differentiation, and vascularization, as well as fetal organogenesis. The fetal origins of adult disease hypothesis proposes that alterations in fetal nutrition and endocrine status result in developmental adaptations that permanently change structure, physiology, and metabolism, thereby predisposing individuals to cardiovascular, metabolic, and endocrine disease in adult life. Multiparous ewes were fed to 50% (nutrient restricted) or 100% (control fed) of total digestible nutrients from Days 28 to 78 of gestation. All ewes were weighed weekly and diets adjusted for individual weight loss or gain. Ewes were killed on Day 78 of gestation and gravid uteri recovered. Fetal body and organ weights were determined, and numbers, morphologies, diameters, and weights of all placentomes were obtained. From Day 28 to Day 78, restricted ewes lost 7.4% of body weight, while control ewes gained 7.5%. Maternal and fetal blood glucose concentrations were reduced in restricted versus control pregnancies. Fetuses were markedly smaller in the restricted group than in the control group. Further, restricted fetuses exhibited greater rightand left-ventricular and liver weights per unit fetal weight than control fetuses. No treatment differences were observed in any gross placentomal measurement. However, caruncular vascularity was enhanced in conceptuses from nutrient-restricted ewes but only in twin pregnancies. While these alterations in fetal/placental development may be beneficial to early fetal survival in the face of a nutrient restriction, their effects later in gestation as well as in postnatal life need further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of reproduction
Volume69
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003

Keywords

  • Conceptus
  • Placenta
  • Placental transport
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology

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