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Lancet. 1993 Feb 6;341(8841):339-41.

Glucocorticoid exposure in utero: new model for adult hypertension.

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University of Edinburgh, Department of Medicine, Western General Hospital, UK.

Erratum in

  • Lancet 1993 Feb 27;341(8844):572.


Hypertension is strongly predicted by the combination of low birthweight and a large placenta. This association could be due to increased fetal exposure to maternal glucocorticoids. Fetal protection is normally effected by placental 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11 beta-OHSD), which converts physiological glucocorticoids to inactive products. We found that rat placental 11 beta-OHSD activity correlated positively with term fetal weight and negatively with placental weight. Offspring of rats treated during pregnancy with dexamethasone (which is not metabolised by 11 beta-OHSD) had lower birthweights and higher blood pressure when adult than did offspring of control rats. Increased fetal glucocorticoid exposure secondary to attenuated placental 11 beta-OHSD activity may link low birthweight and high placental weight with hypertension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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