To test the hypothesis that placental lactogen (PL) is a humoral regulator of fetal growth, six singleton sheep fetuses received a continuous intravenous fusion of 1.2 mg/d of purified ovine PL (oPL) for 14 d, beginning on Day 122 of gestation. The plasma concentration of oPL was approximately four-fold higher in infused fetuses than in six control fetuses that received a continuous infusion of saline. The circulating insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) concentration was also significantly elevated in PL-infused fetuses (43.1 ± 1.7 vs. 31.9 ± 4.1 ng/ml; P < 0.05). Animals were slaughtered on Day 136, and the placenta and all major fetal tissues were dissected, weighed, and subsampled for chemical analysis. Fetal weight and crown-rump length were not significantly affected by treatment; however, the aggregate weight of the brain, liver, lungs, and heart tended to be larger (85.3 ± 2.1 vs. 79.9 ± 1.5 g/kg fetus; mean ± SE, P = 0.07) and the thyroid gland was smaller (0.18 ± 0.1 vs. 0.26 ± 0.02 g/kg fetus: P < 0.05) in the PL-infused fetuses. The livers of the PL infused fetuses had also accumulated additional glycogen (13.1 ± 1.7 vs. 8.4 ± 0.7 g; P < 0.05). In late gestation, PL within the fetal compartment increases fetal plasma IGF-1 concentration and hepatic glycogen deposition and may affect the growth of several vital organs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Animals
- Animal Science and Zoology