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Am J Physiol. 1983 Feb;244(2):H289-97.

Cardiac response of the fetal rat to carbon monoxide exposure.


Groups of pregnant rats were exposed to 200, 166, and 157 ppm CO for the last 17 out of 22 days of gestation. The number of fetuses per dam or live young per litter were unaffected. Neonatal red blood cell count was depressed, whereas mean corpuscular hemoglobin and volume were elevated. Birth weight was reduced; heart weight, heart weight-to-body weight ratio, placental weight, and placental weight-to-body weight ratio were elevated. Identical results were obtained in studies of fetuses examined daily during the final 4 days of gestation at 200 ppm. Cardiomegaly present at birth was not due to elevated myocardial water content, as dry heart weight and wet heart weight increased proportionately. Heart DNA content (microgram) was increased at both 157 and 200 ppm CO in neonates and fetuses, whereas DNA concentration (microgram/mg dry wt) was similar to the controls. Cardiac hydroxyproline concentration (microgram/mg dry wt) and content (microgram) were unaffected in neonates by fetal CO exposure at 157 and 200 ppm, although the hydroxyproline content was elevated in fetuses at 157 ppm CO. Cardiac lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) M subunit composition was elevated from 4 days before birth, until birth, at 200 ppm CO, whereas total LDH activity was unchanged. Although neonatal myocardial cytochrome c was unaltered by fetal CO exposure, myoglobin concentration (mg/g) and content (mg) were elevated. Prolonged maternal CO inhalation thus exerts significant effects on fetal body and placental weight, heart weight, enzyme constituents, and composition.

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