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Am J Physiol. 1987 Apr;252(4 Pt 2):R743-8.

Negative-feedback inhibition of fetal ACTH secretion by maternal cortisol.


Previous studies in this laboratory have shown that small increases in fetal cortisol (F) decreased basal fetal plasma renin activity (PRA) and completely inhibited the fetal adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) response to hypotension. The present study was designed to quantitate suppression of fetal ACTH and renin secretion by maternal F. Fetal and maternal femoral arteries and veins were chronically catheterized (11 fetuses, 118-129 days gestation). Maternal intravenous infusion of 0, 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 micrograms F X kg-1 X min-1 (n = 5-6) increased mean maternal and fetal cortisol and suppressed fetal ACTH responses to a subsequent period of hypotension in a dose-related manner. Increases in fetal plasma cortisol to 8.3 ng/ml completely suppressed the fetal ACTH response to hypotension. The results indicate that increases in maternal plasma cortisol concentration sufficient to produce modest increases in fetal plasma cortisol inhibit fetal ACTH secretion.

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