Fetal growth restriction is defined as a pathologic decrease in the rate of fetal growth. The most frequent etiology for late onset fetal growth restriction is uteroplacental dysfunction which is due to inadequate supply of nutrients and oxygen to support normal aerobic growth of the fetus. However, for symmetrical IUGR, fetal chromosomal anomalies, structural anomalies and fetal infections should be carefully excluded. Consequent to the uteroplacental vascular maladaptation of endovascular trophoblastic invasion, there is increased vascular resistance and decreased blood flow to the placenta in the choriodecidual compartment.
This under perfusion of the placenta causes villous damage; that is, total tertiary villous capillary bed is reduced leading to increased placental resistance. These changes can be diagnosed by Doppler and characteristic changes are seen in the uterine, umbilical, middle cerebral arteries and ductus venosus vessels. In severe cases, delivery of the fetus with optimum intrapartum surveillance, or caesarean section, is essential.
IUGR; Placental insufficiency; Colour doppler; Low birth weight
Objective: To investigate first trimester human fetal cardiac function in relation to cardiac volume blood flow, and peripheral arterial and venous blood flow patterns.
Methods: Transvaginal Doppler ultrasonography was performed in 16 uncomplicated pregnancies at 6+, 7+, 8+, 9+, and 10+ gestational weeks. The shape of the inflow waveform and the presence of atrioventricular valve regurgitation (AVVR) were noted. The outflow mean velocity (Vmean) was calculated. The proportions of the isovolumetric relaxation (IRT%) and contraction times (ICT%) of the cardiac cycle were defined. Ductus venosus and umbilical artery pulsatility indices (PI) were obtained.
Results: Every inflow waveform was monophasic before 9+ weeks. At 9+ weeks 11 of 16 and at 10+ weeks all waveforms were biphasic. At 7+ and 8+ weeks AVVR was documented in one case. At 9+ and 10+ weeks AVVR was present in four and seven fetuses, respectively. Mean (SD) outflow Vmean increased between 6+ and 8+ weeks from 3.6 (1.5) to 8.4 (3.0) cm/s (p < 0.05). IRT% decreased significantly from 6+ to 7+ weeks (39.8 (2.6) to 19.2 (6.2), p < 0.001). ICT% decreased between 8+ and 9+ weeks from 13.2 (4.0) to 8.5 (2.5) (p < 0.05). Ductus venosus PIs were unchanged. Umbilical artery Vmean increased between 7+ and 10+ weeks from 1.59 (0.51) to 5.06 (1.06) cm/s (p < 0.001) and PIs remained unchanged.
Conclusions: The first trimester of pregnancy is characterised by significant improvements in cardiac diastolic and systolic function with a concomitant increase in cardiac volume blood flow. At 10+ weeks AVVR is a common finding. Placental volume blood flow increases significantly with no change in the placental vascular impedance.
fetus; early pregnancy; Doppler; ventricular function; physiology
The biochemical features of portosystemic venous shunt with high flow volume are hypergalactosaemia, hyperammonaemia, prolonged blood coagulation time, and raised serum bile acid concentration. The ductus venosus remains open with shunt flow in most neonates for a certain period after birth. However, the effects of blood flow through the ductus venosus on neonatal liver function remain unclear.
To elucidate the effect of patency of the ductus venosus on liver function in early neonates.
Subjects were divided into three groups by gestational age (group I, 29–32 weeks; group II, 33–36 weeks; group III, 37–41 weeks). The shunt flow volume through the ductus venosus was examined serially using ultrasonography, and correlations between flow volume and liver function in the respective groups were calculated during the first week after birth.
Group I had a higher flow volume and later functional closure than the other two groups. Plasma ammonia and serum total bile acid concentrations correlated with flow volume in groups I and II, and blood galactose and galactose 1‐phosphate concentrations correlated significantly with flow volume in group III. Percentage hepaplastin also correlated significantly with flow volume in all groups, but plasma vitamin K concentration did not in any group.
Patent ductus venosus has a considerable effect on crucial liver functions such as ammonia detoxification, blood coagulation, and regulation of serum total bile acid concentration in early neonates.
gestational age; liver function; patent ductus venosus; portosystemic venous shunt
Neurotoxicity is the major health effect from exposure to lead for infants and young children, and there is current concern regarding possible toxic effects of lead on the child while in utero. There is no placental-fetal barrier to lead transport. Maternal and fetal blood lead levels are nearly identical, so lead passes through the placenta unencumbered. Lead has been measured in the fetal brain as early as the end of the first trimester (13 weeks). There is a similar rate of increase in brain size and lead content throughout pregnancy in the fetus of mothers in the general population, so concentration of lead probably does not differ greatly during gestation unless exposure of the mother changes. Cell-specific sensitivity to the toxic effects of lead, however, may be greater the younger the fetus. Lead toxicity to the nervous system is characterized by edema or swelling of the brain due to altered permeability of capillary endothelial cells. Experimental studies suggest that immature endothelial cells forming the capillaries of the developing brain are less resistant to the effects of lead, permitting fluid and cations including lead to reach newly formed components of the brain, particularly astrocytes and neurons. Also, the ability of astrocytes and neurons to sequester lead in the form of lead protein complexes occurs only in the later stages of fetal development, permitting lead in maturing brain cells to interact with vital subcellular organelles, particularly mitochondria, which are the major cellular energy source. Intracellular lead also affects binding sites for calcium which, in turn, may affect numerous cell functions including neurotransmitter release.
To investigate the maternal-fetal transfer of tobramycin (TBM) and its distribution in the fetus, a single dose of 2 mg/kg was administered intramuscularly to 35 pregnant patients (13 first trimester, 22 second trimester) 0.5 to 34 h before hysterectomy. TBM concentration was assayed microbiologically in maternal serum, fetal tissues (placenta, brain, lung, liver, and kidney), and fluids (amniotic, cerebrospinal fluid [CSF], urine, and serum). Mean maternal serum half-life (1.54 h) and mean peak serum concentration of TBM were within ranges reported for nonpregnant adults. In fetal serum, half-life was 5.2 h, and TBM levels did not exceed 0.58 μg/ml. For intervals up to 34 h, the mean TBM concentration in placental tissues was 1.4 μg/g. Concentration differences related to fetal maturation were found for fetal CSF, amniotic fluid, and fetal kidney. No antimicrobial activity was found in the fetal CSF of >16 weeks' gestation. TBM was present predominantly in the second trimester amniotic fluid specimens. Fetal kidney concentrations reached 7.2 μg/g at 34 h after maternal drug administration. Higher TBM concentrations were related to advanced maturation of the fetal kidney. Second trimester fetal urine concentrations for TBM ranged from 0.1 to 3.4 μg/ml, and the fetal urinary half-life was 3.7 h. Knowledge of fetal pharmacology is essential for weighing the fetal benefits or risks of antimicrobial therapy for the infected gravid patient.
Iodine is an integral part of the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3), necessary for normal growth and development. An adequate supply of cerebral T3, generated in the fetal brain from maternal free T4 (fT4), is needed by the fetus for thyroid hormone dependent neurodevelopment, which begins in the second half of the first trimester of pregnancy. Around the beginning of the second trimester the fetal thyroid also begins to produce hormones but the reserves of the fetal gland are low, thus maternal thyroid hormones contribute to total fetal thyroid hormone concentrations until birth. In order for pregnant women to produce enough thyroid hormones to meet both her own and her baby’s requirements, a 50% increase in iodine intake is recommended. A lack of iodine in the diet may result in the mother becoming iodine deficient, and subsequently the fetus. In iodine deficiency, hypothyroxinemia (i.e., low maternal fT4) results in damage to the developing brain, which is further aggravated by hypothyroidism in the fetus. The most serious consequence of iodine deficiency is cretinism, characterised by profound mental retardation. There is unequivocal evidence that severe iodine deficiency in pregnancy impairs brain development in the child. However, only two intervention trials have assessed neurodevelopment in children of moderately iodine deficient mothers finding improved neurodevelopment in children of mothers supplemented earlier rather than later in pregnancy; both studies were not randomised and were uncontrolled. Thus, there is a need for well-designed trials to determine the effect of iodine supplementation in moderate to mildly iodine deficient pregnant women on neurodevelopment in the child.
iodine; pregnancy; child; cretinism; neurodevelopment
A technique is described for studying the distribution of blood flow to the maternal and fetal placental vessels in sheep and dogs with radioactive labeled macroaggregates of albumin.
When the maternal animal breathed room air the distribution of maternal placental blood flow was uneven among the cotyledons as well as within a given cotyledon. Fetal blood flow was also distributed nonuniformly among and within the cotyledons. The relation of maternal to fetal placental blood flow was also markedly uneven (coefficient of correlation, τ = 0.066). After the animal was made hypoxic by breathing 10-12% O2 the distribution of maternal, fetal, and maternal/fetal placental flows became more uniform. The coefficient of correlation of maternal to fetal flow was high (τ = 0.53, P < 0.01). While the maternal animal breathed room air, after ligation of a major branch of the umbilical artery the distribution of maternal, fetal, and maternal/fetal flows in the remaining two-thirds to three-fourths of the placenta became more uniform. The correlation coefficient for maternal to fetal flow was high (τ = 0.35, P < 0.01).
It appears that under normal circumstances with uneven distribution of blood flows there is a considerable portion of the placenta that does not receive blood flow in optimum quantities to promote efficient O2 exchange. Failure to consider the influence of nonuniform maternal flow/fetal flow will result in overestimation of mean maternal-fetal oxygen tension gradients, and thus underestimation of the placental diffusing capacity for oxygen.
In response to maternal hypoxia or compromise of the fetal placental circulation the distribution of maternal, fetal, and maternal/fetal flows becomes more uniform, thereby increasing the efficiency of placental O2 exchange.
Adverse fetal environments are associated with depression, reduced cognitive ability and increased stress responsiveness in later life, but underlying mechanisms are unknown. Environmental pressures on the fetus, resulting from variations in placental function and maternal nutrition, health and stress might alter neurodevelopment, promoting the development of some brain regions over others. As asymmetry of cerebral activity, with greater right hemisphere activity, has been associated with psychopathology, we hypothesized that regional specialization during fetal life might be reflected persistently in the relative activity of the cerebral hemispheres. We tested this hypothesis in 140 healthy 8–9 year-old children, using tympanic membrane temperature to assess relative blood flow to the cerebral hemispheres at rest and following psychosocial stress (Trier Social Stress Test for Children). Their birth weight and placental weight had already been measured when their mothers took part in a previous study of pregnancy outcomes. We found that children who had a smaller weight at birth had evidence of greater blood flow to the right hemisphere than to the left hemisphere (r = −.09, P = .29 at rest; r = −.18, P = .04 following stress). This finding was strengthened if the children had a relatively low birth weight for their placental weight (r = −.17, P = .05 at rest; r = −.31, P = .0005 following stress). Our findings suggest that lateralization of cerebral activity is influenced persistently by early developmental experiences, with possible consequences for long-term neurocognitive function.
We hypothesised that ectopic fat deposition is present in liver and skeletal muscle before puberty and that both are potentially important factors in the early pathogenesis of insulin resistance.
Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to evaluate intramyocellular and intrahepatic lipids in 50 male and 42 female multi-ethnic, prepubertal (Tanner<2) children (8.1±0.8 years; 35.4±10.7 kg; 27.9±8.3% body fat; means ± SD). Intramyocellular lipid was measured in soleus muscle and intrahepatic lipid in the middle right lobe. Abdominal fat was measured by magnetic resonance imaging, body fat by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and insulin resistance using homeostatic model assessment.
Intrahepatic lipid ranged from 0.11% to 4.6% relative to the liver water signal (mean 0.79±0.79%) whereas intramyocellular lipid ranged from 0.13% to 1.86% relative to the muscle water signal (mean 0.51±0.28%). Intramyocellular and intrahepatic lipids were significantly correlated with total adiposity (r=0.49 and 0.59), abdominal adiposity (r=0.44 and 0.54), and each other (r=0.39, p<0.05, Spearman). Both intramyocellular and intrahepatic lipid were positively correlated with fasting insulin (r=0.37 and 0.38 respectively) and insulin resistance (r=0.37 and 0.37; p<0.01). After adjustment for race and sex, the relations between ectopic fat and insulin resistance remained, whereas both disappeared when further adjusted for body fat or BMI z scores.
These results suggest that typical relations between body composition, ectopic fat and insulin resistance are present in children before puberty. Thus, interventions aimed at reducing adiposity have the potential to decrease ectopic fat accumulation, delay the onset of insulin resistance and decrease the risk for development of type 2 diabetes in children.
Diabetes in childhood; Human; Insulin sensitivity and resistance; Metabolic syndrome; Pathophysiology/metabolism; Prediction and prevention of type 2 diabetes
The uptake and trans-placental trafficking of fatty acids from the maternal blood into the fetal circulation are essential for embryonic development, and involve several families of proteins. Fatty acid transport proteins (FATPs) uniquely transport fatty acids into cells. We surmised that placental FATPs are germane for fetal growth, and are regulated during hypoxic stress, which is associated with reduced fat supply to the fetus.
Using cultured primary term human trophoblasts we found that FATP2, FATP4 and FATP6 were highly expressed in trophoblasts. Hypoxia enhanced the expression of trophoblastic FATP2 and reduced the expression of FATP4, with no change in FATP6. We also found that Fatp2 and Fatp4 are expressed in the mouse amnion and placenta, respectively. Mice deficient in Fatp2 or Fatp4 did not deviate from normal Mendelian distribution, with both embryos and placentas exhibiting normal weight and morphology, triglyceride content, and expression of genes related to fatty acid mobilization.
We conclude that even though hypoxia regulates the expression of FATP2 and FATP4 in human trophoblasts, mouse Fatp2 and Fatp4 are not essential for intrauterine fetal growth.
The purpose of this study was to examine the degree of contribution from the vertebrobasilar and carotid systems to the origin of the PCA in fetal autopsy brains of last trimester of pregnancy and to compare with published data on the configuration of adult and fetal brains in a population of Sri Lankan origin.
Materials and Methods:
The external diameter of the PcomA, pre-communicating part (P1), and the post-communicating part (P2) of posterior cerebral artery (PCA) of 34 fetal brain in the last trimester of pregnancy (30 to 40 weeks of gestation) was measured using a stereomicroscope equipped with a micrometer calibrator.
The blood supply to the occipital lobe mainly via the PCA was seen in 25 (59%) of fetal brains as compared to that in the literature 220 (93%) in adults brains and the blood supply to the occipital lobe mainly via the internal carotid artery (ICA) was seen in 16 (34%) of fetal brains as compared to 25 (7%) of adults brains (P < 0.0001), transitional configuration where the PcomA is equal in diameter to P1 segment of the PCA was seen in 5 (7.4%) of fetal brains and 8 (2%) of adults brains.
The present study reveals that from the newborn to the adult there is shift from carotid system to the vertebrobasilar system, this justifies further studies on different racial and geographic regions which may give a clearer picture about the cerebral hemodynamics from childhood to adult.
Configuration; fetal brain; posterior cerebral artery; vertebrobasilar
High-altitude studies offer insight into the evolutionary processes and physiological mechanisms affecting the early phases of the human lifespan. Chronic hypoxia slows fetal growth and reduces the pregnancy-associated rise in uterine artery (UA) blood flow. Multigenerational vs. shorter-term high-altitude residents are protected from the altitude-associated reductions in UA flow and fetal growth. Presently unknown is whether this fetal-growth protection is due to the greater delivery or metabolism of oxygen, glucose or other substrates or to other considerations such as mechanical factors protecting fragile fetal villi, the creation of a reserve protecting against ischemia/reperfusion injury, or improved placental O2 transfer as the result of narrowing the A-V O2 difference and raising uterine PvO2. Placental growth and development appear to be normal or modified at high altitude in ways likely to benefit diffusion. Much remains to be learned concerning the effects of chronic hypoxia on embryonic development. Further research is required for identifying the fetoplacental and maternal mechanisms responsible for transforming the maternal vasculature and regulating UA blood flow and fetal growth. Genomic as well as epigenetic studies are opening new avenues of investigation that can yield insights into the basic pathways and evolutionary processes involved.
Adaptation; Andean; genetic; pregnancy; Tibetan; uteroplacental blood flow
Congenital disorders of the hepatic portal vasculature are rare in man but occur frequently in certain dog breeds. In dogs, there are two main subtypes: intrahepatic portosystemic shunts, which are considered to stem from defective closure of the embryonic ductus venosus, and extrahepatic shunts, which connect the splanchnic vascular system with the vena cava or vena azygos. Both subtypes result in nearly complete bypass of the liver by the portal blood flow. In both subtypes the development of the smaller branches of the portal vein tree in the liver is impaired and terminal branches delivering portal blood to the liver lobules are often lacking. The clinical signs are due to poor liver growth, development, and function. Patency of the ductus venosus seems to be a digenic trait in Irish wolfhounds, whereas Cairn terriers with extrahepatic portosystemic shunts display a more complex inheritance. The genes involved in these disorders cannot be identified with the sporadic human cases, but in dogs, the genome-wide study of the extrahepatic form is at an advanced stage. The canine disease may lead to the identification of novel genes and pathways cooperating in growth and development of the hepatic portal vein tree. The same pathways likely regulate the development of the vascular system of regenerating livers during liver diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. Therefore, the identification of these molecular pathways may provide a basis for future proregenerative intervention.
Cholate metabolism was studied in fetal dogs 1 wk before term and was compared with cholate metabolism in adult dogs. Tracer amounts of sodium cholate-14C were administered to the fetus in utero by intravenous infusion over 6 hr. Fetal plasma disappearance, biliary excretion, tissue distribution, and placental transfer of cholate were measured over 10 hr.
Infused cholate-14C was cleared rapidly from fetal plasma principally by the fetal liver and to a minor extent by placental transfer to the mother. The taurine conjugate was formed in the fetal liver and was excreted into the proximal small intestine via the biliary tree. Indirect evidence for the functioning enterohepatic circulation of bile salt in the fetus was obtained.
Comparison with the results of similar experiments in adult dogs showed that the fetal liver was almost as efficient as the adult liver in the uptake, conjugation, and excretion of tracer amounts of cholate-14C. The maximal rate of excretion of radiolabel attained by the fetus was somewhat slower than in the adult (82.8 ±1.4% and 96.1 ±4.0% [mean ±SE] of the infusion rate, respectively), and the proportion of the total dose excreted by the fetal liver during 10 hr was smaller (81.4 ±1.3% vs. 96.6 ±4.4%). This difference could be only partly accounted for by placental transfer (2.8 ±0.6% of the fetal dose).
Labeled cholate and taurocholate were excreted by the fetus at similar rates, which suggests that, under the conditions of study, conjugation had little influence on the rate of transfer of cholate across the liver cell.
It is concluded that the fetal dog, 1 wk before birth, has a remarkably mature and efficient mechanism for the uptake and excretion of cholate.
Fetal cells migrate into the mother during pregnancy. Fetomaternal transfer probably occurs in all pregnancies and in humans the fetal cells can persist for decades. Microchimeric fetal cells are found in various maternal tissues and organs including blood, bone marrow, skin and liver. In mice, fetal cells have also been found in the brain. The fetal cells also appear to target sites of injury. Fetomaternal microchimerism may have important implications for the immune status of women, influencing autoimmunity and tolerance to transplants. Further understanding of the ability of fetal cells to cross both the placental and blood-brain barriers, to migrate into diverse tissues, and to differentiate into multiple cell types may also advance strategies for intravenous transplantation of stem cells for cytotherapeutic repair. Here we discuss hypotheses for how fetal cells cross the placental and blood-brain barriers and the persistence and distribution of fetal cells in the mother.
fetomaternal microchimerism; stem cells; progenitor cells; placental barrier; blood-brain barrier; adhesion; migration
AIM—To assess ultrasonographically the flow pattern and the time of postnatal closure of ductus venosus related to the other fetal shunts.
METHODS—Fifty healthy, term neonates were studied from day 1 up to day 18 using a VingMed CFM 800A ultrasound scanner.
RESULTS—Ductus arteriosus was closed in 94% of the infants before day 3. Ductus venosus, however, was closed in only 12% at the same time, in 76% before day 7, and in all infants before day 18. A closed ductus venosus or ductus arteriosus did not show signs of reopening. Pulsed and colour Doppler flow could be detected across the foramen ovale in all infants during the sequential investigation. At day 1, when the pulmonary vascular resistance was still high, a reversed Doppler flow velocity signal was seen in ductus venosus in 10 infants (20%) and a bidirectional flow in ductus arteriosus in 26 (52%). Closure of the ductus venosus was not significantly correlated with closure of the ductus arteriosus nor related to sex nor weight loss.
CONCLUSIONS—The time of closure of the ductus venosus evaluated by ultrasonography is much later than that of the ductus arteriosus. The flow pattern in ductus venosus reflects the portocaval pressure gradient and the pressure on the right side of the heart and in the pulmonary arteries. Both the flow pattern in the ductus venosus as well as that in the ductus arteriosus may be an indication of compromised neonatal haemodynamics.
Keywords: ductus venosus; ductus arteriosus; foramen ovale; Doppler echocardiography
Objective. To examine venous blood flow velocity in different types of fetal hydrops and its value in the prediction of outcome of pregnancies. Methods. Venous Doppler sonography was performed in 100 hydropic fetuses from 15 to 37 weeks of gestation. Blood velocity was recorded in the right hepatic vein (HV), the ductus venosus (DV) and in the intra-abdominal part of the umbilical vein (UV). Blood velocity indices were calculated and pulsations in the umbilical vein noted and grouped into a single, double or triple flow pattern. Blood velocity was related to cause of hydrops. Results. Mortality was noted in 51 cases of which 19 were by termination of pregnancy. Mortality in the 30 with normal venous blood velocity was 35%, but 58% in cases of abnormal Doppler. Abnormal HV and DV blood velocities were recorded in 39 and 34 cases, respectively and were strongly related to mortality (P < .04 and P < .003, resp.). UV pulsations were noted in 49 fetuses and were significantly related to mortality (P < .04). Mortality and abnormal venous velocities were most frequent in the low-output hydrops group (79% and 75%, resp.). Conclusions. Abnormal venous blood velocity is related to mortality in pregnancies complicated by fetal hydrops. Venous Doppler sonography should be a part of the routine work-up of pregnancies complicated by fetal hydrops.
Both the successful development of healthy, long-term animal models to study fetal nutrition and metabolism and the improved survival of low-birth-weight, preterm infants have focused interest and research on fetal and neonatal nutrition and metabolism. Such a focus is important, given the recent emphasis on promoting neonatal growth in preterm infants at “normal” in utero growth rates. Estimates of nutrient requirements for growth in a human fetus remain ill defined, however. Body composition data appear biased toward thin infants. Animal data suggest that fetal nutrition proceeds according to species-specific growth rates, with variations in fat content largely dependent on placental fat permeability and on maternal nutrient supply as regulated by the placenta.
After birth, neonatal nutrition is affected primarily by food intake and the functional integrity and capacity of the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, muscle activity, thermoregulation and stresses of various kinds and degrees modify a neonate's nutritional requirements. Functional deficits of the gastrointestinal tract have been circumvented by a more aggressive use of intravenous nutrition. Both intravenous and enteral nutrient mixtures have been substantially improved in the quantity of all nutrients and have been modified qualitatively toward compositions that are closer to those of human milk. These nutrient mixtures now produce plasma nutrient concentrations that approximate those of a healthy, breast-fed infant.
Although such efforts to improve the nutritional balance and growth of preterm infants have been successful, much remains to be learned about the nutritional requirements of sick infants.
Preeclampsia, a severe unpredictable complication of pregnancy, occurs in 6% of pregnancies, usually in the second or third trimester. The specific etiology of preeclampsia remains unclear, although the pathophysiological hallmark of this condition appears to be an inadequate blood supply to the placenta. As a result of the impaired placental blood flow, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and consequential fetal oxidative stress may occur. Consistent with this view, pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia and IUGR are characterized by up-regulation of key transcriptional regulators of the hypoxic response including, hif1α and as well as p53 and its target genes. Recently, the presence of circulating cell-free fetal RNA has been documented in maternal plasma. We speculated that pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia and IUGR, will be associated with an abnormal expression of p53 and/or hif1α related genes in the maternal plasma. Maternal plasma from 113 singleton pregnancies (72 normal and 41 complicated pregnancies) and 19 twins (9 normal and 10 complicated pregnancies) were collected and cell free RNA was extracted. The expression of 18 genes was measured by one step real-time RT-PCR and was analyzed for prevalence of positive/negative expression levels. Results indicate that, among the genes examined, cell free plasma expressions of p21 and hif1α were more prevalent in pregnancies complicated by hypoxia and/or IUGR (p<0.001). To conclude, we present in this manuscript data to support the association between two possible surrogate markers of hypoxia and common complications of pregnancy. More work is needed in order to implement these findings in clinical practice.
BACKGROUND—The ductus venosus connects the umbilical vein to the inferior vena cava during fetal life and subsequently closes rapidly after birth. It is known as patent ductus venosus when it remains patent in adulthood.
PATIENTS—A 43 year old man with a history of panhypopituitarism presented with recurrent bouts of pedal oedema associated with fatigue, hypoalbuminaemia, and elevated prothrombin time. An ultrasound examination of his abdomen with Doppler revealed notable attenuation of the main portal vein with diminished intrahepatic branches; a computed tomography scan with angiography revealed a large collateral vein within the liver consistent with a patent ductus venosus. Sequential liver biopsies showed a considerable reduction in the calibre and number of the portal veins. His younger brother, who was diagnosed with alcohol related cirrhosis, suffered from intermittent bouts of encephalopathy and was found to have the same vascular lesion. A third brother was found to have a patent ductus venosus as well as two large hepatic masses consistent with focal nodular hyperplasia.
CONCLUSION—The syndrome of familial patent ductus venosus has only previously been described in three infant brothers who presented with hepatic encephalopathy and fatty degeneration of the liver. This report documents three brothers with a patent ductus venosus presenting in adulthood with different manifestations of liver disease. The presence of the same vascular anomaly in three brothers is highly suggestive of a recessive genetic trait with an anatomical manifestation of patent ductus venosus.
Keywords: patent ductus venosus; portal vein sclerosis; familial; hepatic synthetic dysfunction; hepatic encephalopathy
We analyzed the association between renal and cardiovascular parameters in fetuses with isolated severe urinary tract malformations.
39 fetuses at a mean gestational age of 23.6 weeks with nephropathies or urinary tract malformations and markedly impaired or absent renal function were prospectively examined. Fetal echocardiography was performed, and thicknesses of the interventricular septum, and left and right ventricular wall were measured. Blood flow velocity waveforms of the umbilical artery, middle cerebral artery, and ductus venosus were obtained by color Doppler ultrasound. Concentrations of circulating n-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (nt-proBNP), cystatin C, ß2-microglobulin, and hemoglobin were determined from fetal blood samples.
Malformations included 21 cases of obstructive uropathy, 10 fetuses with bilateral nephropathy, and 8 cases of bilateral renal agenesis. Marked biventricular myocardial hypertrophy was present in all cases. The ratio between measured and gestational age-adjusted normal values was 2.01 (interventricular septum), 1.85, and 1.78 (right and left ventricular wall, respectively). Compared to controls, levels of circulating nt-proBNP were significantly increased (median (IQR) 5035 ng/L (5936 ng/L) vs. 1874 ng/L (1092 ng/L); p<0.001). Cystatin C and ß2-microglobulin concentrations were elevated as follows (mean ± SD) 1.85±0.391 mg/L and 8.44±2.423 mg/L, respectively (normal range 1.66±0.202 mg/L and 4.25±0.734 mg/L, respectively). No correlation was detected between cardiovascular parameters and urinary tract morphology and function. Despite increased levels of nt-proBNP cardiovascular function was preserved, with normal fetal Doppler indices in 90.2% of cases.
Urinary tract malformations resulting in severe renal impairment are associated with biventricular myocardial hypertrophy and elevated concentrations of circulating nt-proBNP during fetal life. Cardiovascular findings do not correlate with kidney function or morphology.
Intake of industrially produced trans fatty acids (TFAs) is, according to observational studies, associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but the causal mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. Besides inducing dyslipidemia, TFA intake is suspected to promote abdominal and liver fat deposition.
We examined the effect of a high intake of TFA as part of an isocaloric diet on whole-body, abdominal and hepatic fat deposition, and blood lipids in postmenopausal women.
In a 16-week double-blind parallel intervention study, 52 healthy overweight postmenopausal women were randomized to receive either partially hydrogenated soybean oil providing 15.7 g day−1 of TFA or a control oil with mainly oleic and palmitic acid. Before and after the intervention, body composition was assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, abdominal fat by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, and liver fat by 1H MR spectroscopy.
Compared with the control fat, TFA intake decreased plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol by 10%, increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol by 18% and resulted in an increased LDL/HDL-cholesterol ratio (baseline adjusted mean (95% CI) difference between diet groups 0.41 (0.22; 0.60); P<0.001). TFA tended to increase the body fat (0.46 (−0.20; 1.17) kg; P=0.16) and waist circumference (1.1 (−0.1; 2.4) cm; P=0.08) more than the control fat, whereas neither abdominal nor liver fat deposition was affected by TFA.
The adverse effect of dietary TFA on cardiovascular disease risk involves induction of dyslipidemia, and perhaps body fat, whereas weight gain-independent accumulation of ectopic fat could not be identified as a contributory factor during short-term intake.
randomized clinical trial; trans fatty acids; ectopic fat; dietary intervention
Brain and heart development occurs simultaneously in the fetus with congenital heart disease. Early morphogenetic programs in each organ share common genetic pathways. Brain development occurs across a more protracted time-course with striking brain growth and activity-dependent formation and refinement of connections in the third trimester. This development is associated with increased metabolic activity and the brain is dependent upon the heart for oxygen and nutrient delivery. Congenital heart disease leads to derangements of fetal blood flow that result in impaired brain growth and development that can be measured with advanced magnetic resonance imaging. Delayed development results in a unique vulnerability to cerebral white matter injury in newborns with congenital heart disease. Delayed brain development and acquired white matter injury may underlay mild but pervasive neurodevelopmental impairment commonly observed in children following neonatal congenital heart surgery.
Congenital heart defects; Brain development; White matter injury; Periventricular leukomalacia; Infant heart surgery; Fetal circulation
Alterations in regional fat are often reported in HIV infection. Prior studies have not distinguished between normal changes in regional fat related to sexual maturation and those due to HIV. The study aim was to compare changes in regional fat distribution in HIV-infected (HIV+) and healthy (HIV−) children and adolescents living in the United States.
Serial dual energy X-ray absorptiometry was performed at baseline and two annual follow-up visits in 64 HIV+ and 147 HIV− participants aged 6–16 years. Total, leg, arm, and trunk fat masses (kg) and regional fat distribution as the percentage of total body fat (%) were compared.
HIV+ and HIV− participants did not differ in total fat mass, but the HIV+ group had significantly lower leg and greater arm fat and trunk fat percentage at all time points. Over time, decreases in leg fat percentage and increases in arm fat percentage were more marked among the HIV+ group. Differences between HIV+ and HIV− groups in arm and leg fat percentage remained significant when age, sex, race, height, and pubertal stage were accounted for by mixed effect modeling. Apart from prior treatment with stavudine, no differences in fat distribution were observed according to treatment or degree of immunodeficiency or viremia.
Although no single pattern of change in regional fat distribution was uniquely associated with HIV, perinatally HIV-infected youth manifest significantly decreased leg fat and increased arm and trunk fat. These differences increase over time and may contribute to cardiovascular disease risk.
adolescent HIV infection; dual X-ray absorptiometry; lipoatrophy; lipodystrophy; pediatric HIV infection; regional fat
Cardiomyopathy is noted in up to 40% of infants of diabetic mothers, and the exact mechanisms are unknown. The aim of this study was to determine whether fetal serum markers of cardiac function differ between normal and type 1 diabetic pregnancies and to examine the relationship between these markers and fetal cardiac structure and function.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
This was a prospective observational study of 45 type 1 diabetic pregnancies and 39 normal pregnancies. All participants had concentrations of fetal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide (proBNP) and troponin-T (TnT) measured at the time of delivery. All patients with type 1 diabetes had Doppler evaluation of the umbilical artery, middle cerebral artery, and ductus venosus in the third trimester, and a subset (n = 21) had detailed fetal echocardiograms performed in each trimester.
Fetal proBNP and TnT concentrations were higher in the diabetic cohort than in the normal cohort (P < 0.05). ProBNP correlated positively with interventricular septum thickness (P < 0.05) but not with cardiac function indexes in the third trimester. In patients with poor glycemic control, there was a significant positive correlation (P < 0.05) between fetal TnT and the third trimester umbilical artery pulsatility index. There were also increased levels of fetal TnT in infants with poor perinatal outcome (P < 0.05).
Biochemical markers of cardiac dysfunction are elevated in infants of diabetic mothers, especially those with cardiomyopathy or poor perinatal outcome. Hyperglycemia in early pregnancy may affect myocardial and placental development, thus contributing to the susceptibility to hypoxia seen in these infants.