To determine whether administration of human placental lactogen (hPL) to pregnant rats during late gestation might enhance fetal growth, we implanted os-motically driven minipumps to provide 75 jug h PL/24 h on day 14 of the rat's 21.5-day gestation. This substantially increased maternal and fetal plasma hPL concentrations. By day 18, hPL fetuses were, significantly heavier and had larger placentas than controls. From this point until term, their rate of growth (1.20 g/24 h) significantly exceeded that of controls (0.95 g/24 h). Birth weights differed significantly (hPL 5.86 ± 0.08 g; controls 5.20 ± 0.08 g, p < 0.001). This increase was due primarily to significant increases in the growth of the liver and carcass. Enhanced glucose availability was in part responsible for this phenomenon inasmuch as plasma glucose concentrations were significantly increased in hPL maternal rats from days 15 to 19. This resulted on days 18 and 19 in significantly increased plasma glucose and insulin concentrations in hPL fetuses. Fetal/maternal glucose ratios did not differ between hPL and control fetuses. Fetal hepatic glycogen concentrations were significantly increased on day 18 and 19 but were similar to controls from day 20 until birth. These observations suggest that increased maternal glucose availability with consequent stimulation of fetal insulin secretion accelerated the growth of hPL fetuses. However, maternal and fetal plasma glucose concentrations and fetal plasma insulin and hepatic glycogen concentrations on days 20 and 21 were normal, suggesting that other factors also were responsible for sustaining the accelerated fetal growth on these days. These observations and the many reports of the stimulatory effect of placental lactogen upon numerous fetal metabolic functions suggest that hPL might have directly stimulated growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health