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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1983 Dec;57(6):1173-8.

Changes in fetal rhesus monkey plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate: relationship to gestational age, adrenal weight and preterm delivery.


These studies were performed to assess the concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHAS) in the rhesus monkey fetal circulation from midgestation through the neonatal period, to determine the relation between changes in fetal adrenal size and DHAS levels both during gestation and after surgical stress, and to explore possible relations between changes in the concentration of DHAS in the fetal circulation and the initiation of labor. When plasma DHAS was quantified in cord blood and in serial samples from chronically catheterized rhesus monkey fetuses, a significant increase in plasma DHAS concentration occurred after 150 days gestational age (404 +/- 37 vs. 1093 +/- 159 ng/ml), and an additional increase was found after 159 days (2246 +/- 712 ng/ml). A diurnal change in fetal plasma DHAS occurred in chronically catheterized fetuses, with evening samples having higher values than morning samples. Further, there was an increase in plasma DHAS concentrations in the 4-5 days after fetal surgery. A significant increase in fetal plasma DHAS concentration occurred in the newborn rhesus monkey. Although plasma DHAS concentrations remained significantly higher than in the late gestation fetus, they decreased by approximately half within the first 2 weeks of life. A close correlation existed between fetal plasma DHAS and fetal adrenal weight in control fetuses delivered by hysterotomy and fetuses that were delivered 5 days after fetal surgery. Adrenal weights in the latter were significantly higher than those in comparably aged fetuses delivered by hysterotomy that had not undergone the stress of fetal surgery. The possible relationship between the increase in plasma DHAS and the initiation of labor was studied by monitoring the changes in daily morning DHAS concentrations in long term catheterized fetuses and comparing these values to the mean cross-sectional DHAS values corresponding to that gestational age. In all but one case, the values of DHAS, although they increased preceding delivery, were still within the range found in fetuses of the same gestational age that were not in labor. These data indicate that increases in DHAS are intimately related to parallel increases in fetal adrenal weight, that there are striking increases in DHAS levels near the end of gestation, that an increase in DHAS is a component of the fetal response to surgical stress, and that there is no immediately apparent, direct relationship between fetal DHAS and preterm delivery.

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