Lewis, R.M., James, L.A., Zhang, J., Byrne, C.D. and Hales, C.N.
Effects of maternal iron restriction in the rat on hypoxia-induced gene expression and fetal metabolite levels
British Journal of Nutrition, 85, (2), .
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The mechanism by which maternal Fe deficiency in the rat causes fetal growth retardation has not been clearly established. This study compared the effects on the fetuses from dams fed a control diet with two groups of dams fed Fe-restricted diets. One Fe-restricted group was fed the Fe-restricted diet for 1 week prior to mating and throughout gestation and the second Fe-restricted group was fed the Fe-restricted diet for 2 weeks prior to mating and throughout gestation. On day 21 of gestation Fe-restricted dams, and their fetuses, were anaemic. Fetal weight was reduced in both Fe-restricted groups compared with controls. Expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are induced by hypoxia. The levels of HIF-1 mRNA were highest in placenta, then in kidney, heart and liver but were not different between the groups. Levels of plasma VEGF were not different between the groups. Maternal plasma triacylglycerol was decreased in the 1-week Fe-restricted dams compared with controls. Maternal plasma cholesterol and free fatty acid levels were not different between the groups. In fetal plasma, levels of triacylglycerol and cholesterol were decreased in both Fe-restricted groups. In maternal plasma, levels of a number of amino acids were elevated in both Fe-restricted groups. In contrast, levels of a number of amino acids in fetal plasma were lower in both Fe-restricted groups. Fetal plasma lactate was increased in Fe-restricted fetuses but fetal plasma glucose and -hydroxybutyrate were not affected. These changes in fetal metabolism may contribute to fetal growth retardation in this model. This study does not support the hypothesis that the Fe-restricted fetus is hypoxic.
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