Background: This study examines the relationship between placental amino acid (AA) transport and fetal AA demand in an ovine fetal growth restriction (FGR) model in which placental underdevelopment induces fetal hypoxemia and hypoglycemia. Methods: Umbilical uptakes of AA, oxygen, glucose, and lactate were measured near term in eight experimental ewes (FGR group) and in eight controls (C group). Results: The FGR group demonstrated significantly reduced umbilical uptakes of oxygen, glucose, lactate, and 11 AAs per kg fetus. The combined uptake of glucose, lactate, and AAs, expressed as nutrient/oxygen quotients, was reduced almost to 1.00 (FGR: 1.05 vs. C: 1.32, P ≤ 0.02). In contrast to a decrease in umbilical glucose concentration, all but one of the AAs that were transported from placenta to fetus demonstrated normal or elevated fetal concentrations, and five of the essential AAs were transported against a significantly higher feto/maternal (F/M) concentration ratio. This ratio peaked at the lowest fetal oxygen levels. Conclusion: We conclude that, in the hypoxic FGR fetus, the reduction in AA uptake is not due to a disproportionally small placental AA transport capacity. It is the consequence of decreased fetal oxidative metabolism and growth rate, which together reduce fetal AA demand.

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Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Regnault, T., de Vrijer, B., Galan, H., Wilkening, R., Battaglia, F., & Meschia, G. (2013). Umbilical uptakes and transplacental concentration ratios of amino acids in severe fetal growth restriction. Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology, 73(5), 602–611. doi:10.1038/pr.2013.30