Growth & Development Symposium: Fetal Programming
By: Anne Zinn
The Growth and Development Symposium held on Tuesday, July 10 at the ASAS-CSAS Annual Meeting gave speakers an opportunity to discuss fetal programming. Specifically, Junior Platform Speaker Amanda Jones, Postdoctoral Student at the University of Colorado, presented on the effects of late gestation hypoxia on fetal metabolism. Fetal hypoxia is a component of placental insufficiency that can be induced by stress during gestation, increasing litter size or improper placental vascularity; this placental insufficiency can produce intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) fetuses that have reduced body weight, reduced muscularity, and metabolic disturbances. Jones gave an update on current research happening at the University of Colorado that aims to delineate the role of hypoxia on fetal metabolism; the team hypothesized that hypoxia would alter fetal whole-body and hectic metabolism. Results showed fetal arterial pCO2 was reduced and arterial lactate concentrations were increased by hypoxia, indicative of increased anearobic metabolism, and fetuses demonstrated reduced insulin and increased norepinephrine arterial concentrations. Jones explained that these data demonstrate that hypoxia is a key factor causing fetal metabolic adaptations to in utero insults. Jones and the research team at University of Colorado will continue to investigate how the uteroplacental unit may contribute to the fetal metabolic adaptations observed during hypoxia. Continued research is necessary to better understand the effects of late gestation hypoxia on fetal metabolism because persistent changes in metabolism may compromise body composition and growth efficiency of these offspring postnatally.