Postnatal effects of intrauterine treatment of the growth-restricted ovine fetus with intra-amniotic insulin-like growth factor-1.

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Abstract

KEY POINTS

Fetal growth restriction increases the risk of fetal and neonatal mortality and morbidity, and contributes to increased risk of chronic disease later in life. Intra-amniotic insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1) treatment of the growth-restricted ovine fetus improves fetal growth, but postnatal effects are unknown. Here we report that intra-amniotic IGF1 treatment of the growth-restricted ovine fetus alters size at birth and mechanisms of early postnatal growth in a sex-specific manner. We also show that maternal plasma C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) products are related to fetal oxygenation and size at birth, and hence may be useful for non-invasive monitoring of fetal growth restriction. Intrauterine IGF1 treatment in late gestation is a potentially clinically relevant intervention that may ameliorate the postnatal complications of fetal growth restriction.

ABSTRACT

Placental insufficiency-mediated fetal growth restriction (FGR) is associated with altered postnatal growth and metabolism, which are, in turn, associated with increased risk of adult disease. Intra-amniotic insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1) treatment of ovine FGR increases growth rate in late gestation, but the effects on postnatal growth and metabolism are unknown. We investigated the effects of intra-amniotic IGF1 administration to ovine fetuses with uteroplacental embolisation-induced FGR on phenotypical and physiological characteristics in the 2  weeks after birth. We measured early postnatal growth velocity, amino-terminal propeptide of C-type natriuretic peptide (NTproCNP), body composition, tissue-specific mRNA expression, and milk intake in singleton lambs treated weekly with 360 μg intra-amniotic IGF1 (FGRI; n = 13 females, 19 males) or saline (FGRS; n = 18 females, 12 males) during gestation, and in controls (CON; n = 15 females, 22 males). There was a strong positive correlation between maternal NTproCNP and fetal oxygenation, and size at birth in FGR lambs. FGR lambs were ∼20% lighter at birth and demonstrated accelerated postnatal growth velocity. IGF1 treatment did not alter perinatal mortality, partially abrogated the reduction in newborn size in females, but not males, and reduced accelerated growth in both sexes. IGF1-mediated upregulation of somatotrophic genes in males during the early postnatal period could suggest that treatment effects are associated with delayed axis maturation, whilst treatment outcomes in females may rely on the reprogramming of nutrient-dependent mechanisms of growth. These data suggest that the growth-restricted fetus is responsive to intra-amniotic intervention with IGF1, and that sex-specific somatotrophic effects persist in the early postnatal period.

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