Fetal brain injury in experimental intrauterine asphyxia and inflammation in Göttingen minipigs

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Abstract

Objective

To examine fetal brain injury in the Göttingen minipig following intrauterine asphyxia and infection/ inflammation induced at 3/4 of gestational length.

Methods

We performed laparotomy after anesthesia in six pregnant sows. We randomized 29 fetuses to one of four groups: pretreatment with saline or endotoxin followed by 30 min of umbilical cord occlusion or no occlusion. After 48 h we performed a re-laparotomy and examined the fetal brains.

Results

After total asphyxia, brain stem injury was present in the group pretreated with saline (P < 0.01 vs. controls) and with endotoxin (P < 0.005 vs. controls). Microglia activation was more marked in the brain stem (P < 0.05) and posterior white matter (P < 0.05) in the asphyxia group than in controls. Two of five fetuses in the asphyxia group had white matter injury, while no white matter lesions were found in the asphyxia/inflammation or endotoxin only groups.

Conclusions

In this Göttingen minipig model, a species closer to humans than animals commonly used in experimental studies of perinatal brain injuries, intrauterine asphyxia following pretreatment with saline caused brain stem and white matter injury. This model can be further developed to study the impact of other intrauterine exposures on brain injury.

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