Amino acids, polyamines, and nitric oxide synthesis in the ovine conceptus



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Texas A&M University


The objective of this study was to determine concentrations of amino acids and polyamines as well as nitric oxide (NO) and polyamine synthesis in the ovine conceptus (embryo/fetal and associated placental membrane). Ewes were hysterectomized on Days 30, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, or 140 of gestation to obtain allantoic and amniotic fluids, intercotyledonary placenta, placentomes and uterine endometrium for the analyses. Alanine, citrulline plus glutamine accounted for about 80% of total α-amino acids in allantoic fluid during early gestation. Serine (16.5 mM) contributed about 60% of total α-amino acids in allantoic fluid on Day 140 of gestation. Maximal ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and arginase activities and highest rates of polyamine and NO synthesis occured in all tissues on Day 40 of gestation. In ovine allantoic and amniotic fluids, polyamines were most abundant during early (Days 40-60) and late (Days 100-140) gestation, respectively. Activity of guanosine 5??-triphosphate-cyclohydrolase I (GTP-CH), and concentrations of NOS cofactors, tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) and NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), peaked on Day 40 of gestation in placental and endometrial tissues. In these tissues, NO synthesis was positively correlated with total NOS activity, GTP-CH activity, and concentrations of BH4 and NADPH. The physiological significance of these changes was manifested by undernutrition-induced intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR). Maternal undernutrition (50% of National Research Council nutrient requirements) reduced concentrations of total α-amino acids in fetal plasma and fluids, and retarded fetal growth at both mid (Day 78) and late (Day 135) gestation. Concentrations of polyamines in fetal fluids were lower in underfed ewes than in control-fed ewes. Realimentation of underfed ewes between Days 78 and 135 of gestation increased concentrations of total α-amino acids and polyamines in fetal plasma and fluids, when compared with non-realimented ewes. Results of these studies demonstrate metabolic coordination among the several integrated pathways to enable high rates of polyamine and NO synthesis in the placenta and endometrium during early pregnancy. Collectively, our findings may have important implications for both IUGR and fetal origins of adult disease.