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Relationship between lamb birth weights and fetal plasma growth hormone and insulin concentrations

, : Relationship between lamb birth weights and fetal plasma growth hormone and insulin concentrations. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 66(4): 995-1002

Plasma concentrations of growth hormone (GH) and insulin were monitored in 11 chronically cannulated ovine fetuses and their mothers during the last month of gestation to obtain information on the role that these hormones have in determining fetal growth rate. Maternal plasma GH and insulin concentrations were independent of stage of gestation and lamb birth weights. Fetal plasma insulin concentrations were episodic in nature, independent of stage of gestation, and tended to be higher in fetuses that were heavier at birth. Fetal plasma GH concentrations were only slightly episodic in nature, were tenfold higher than maternal levels at 116-124 d gestation and increased by approximately another 25% prior to parturition. Fetal plasma GH concentrations were negatively correalated with lamb birth weights. In twin preparations, fetal plasma GH concentrations were significantly lower in the twin that was heaviest at birth. The lower GH concentrations found in faster growing fetuses are suggestive of a more rapid metabolic clearance of GH by the tissues of these animals. The results indicate that circulating fetal GH and, possibly, insulin are involved in determining the rate of ovine-fetal growth.

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