Programming effects in sheep of prenatal growth restriction and glucocorticoid exposure
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Our aim was to determine the postnatal effects of single and repeated glucocorticoid injections during late gestation. Repeated (104, 111, 118, 125 days) or single (104 days) injections of betamethasone or saline were given to the ewe or by ultrasound guided injection to the fetus (term 150 days). Lambs were born spontaneously and studied at 3 and 6 mo and 1 yr of age. Arterial pressure was measured at each age, and we performed intravenous glucose tolerance tests at 6 mo and 1 yr. Repeated maternal, but not single maternal or fetal, betamethasone injections prolonged gestation, reduced weight at birth and 3 mo, and was associated with low arterial pressure at 3 mo but not at 6 mo and 1 yr. Glucose metabolism was altered in all betamethasone treatment groups, regardless of the number or route of injections. Our data demonstrate that glucocorticoid-induced fetal growth restriction is associated with a transient reduction in postnatal arterial pressure, but glucocorticoid exposure with or without growth restriction alters glucose metabolism.
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