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Effect of three hours of hypoxia on atrial natriuretic factor gene expression in the ovine fetal heart

      Abstract

      OBJECTIVES: The current study investigated the effects of 3 hours of hypoxia on atrial natriuretic factor gene expression and peptide content in each of the four cardiac chambers of the near-term ovine fetus. STUDY DESIGN: Twenty-three chronically catheterized ovine fetuses at 125 to 129 days' gestation (term 145 days) were used for this study. Fetal hypoxia was induced for 3 hours in 12 fetuses by infusion of nitrogen into the maternal trachea. The remaining fetuses were used as controls. Fetal arterial Po2 and plasma atrial natriuretic factor concentrations were measured during hypoxia. At the end of the hypoxic period atrial natriuretic factor peptide contents and messenger ribonucleic acid levels in each cardiac chamber were determined by radioimmunoassay and Northern blot analysis, respectively. RESULTS: With infusion of nitrogen into the maternal trachea, fetal arterial Po2 was reduced within 30 minutes by an average of 8.0 ± 0.3 (SEM) mm Hg (p < 0.0001) and remained reduced at this level throughout the entire hypoxic period. Plasma atrial natriuretic factor concentrations increased by 1152 ± 212 pg/ml (p < 0.003) and the increase was sustained for the duration of hypoxia. Atrial natriuretic factor peptide and messenger ribonucleic acid levels were much higher in the atria than in the ventricles. Hypoxia did not result in alterations of atrial natriuretic factor peptide content or messenger ribonucleic acid abundance in each cardiac chamber. CONCLUSIONS: In the near-term ovine fetus, 3 hours of hypoxia resulted in greatly elevated plasma atrial natriuretic factor concentrations; this response was sustained for the duration of hypoxia. However, the increase was not associated with a detectable change in atrial natriuretic factor peptide content or an induction of atrial natriuretic factor gene expression in the atria and ventricles. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1997;176:42-48.)

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