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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2010 Sep;299(3):R793-803. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00590.2009. Epub 2010 Jun 16.

Prenatal betamethasone exposure alters renal function in immature sheep: sex differences in effects.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Center of Research for Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wake Forest Univ. School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Synthetic glucocorticoids are commonly given to pregnant women when premature delivery threatens. Antenatal administration of clinically relevant doses of betamethasone to pregnant sheep causes sex-specific compromises of renal function and increases in blood pressure in adult offspring. However, it is unclear whether such effects are present in immature lambs. Therefore, the aims of the present study were to determine whether antenatal betamethasone at 80-81 days of gestation increases blood pressure and adversely impacts renal function in adolescent ewes and rams. Prenatal steroid exposure increased blood pressure significantly in the young male (84 +/- 2 vs. 74 +/- 3 mmHg) and female sheep (88 +/- 5 vs. 79 +/- 4), but it did not alter basal glomerular filtration rate, renal blood flow (RBF), or sodium excretion in either sex. However, antenatal betamethasone exposure blocked increases in RBF (P = 0.001), and enhanced excretion of an acute Na load (P < 0.05) in response to systemic infusions of angiotensin (ANG)-(1-7) at 10 in males. In females, the natriuretic response to combined ANG-(1-7), and Na load was significantly altered by prenatal betamethasone exposure. These findings indicate that blood pressure is increased in immature animals in response to antenatal steroid exposure and that sex-specific effects on renal function also exist. These changes may reflect greater risk for further loss of renal function with age.

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