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Dietary melatonin supplementation alters uteroplacental amino acid flux during intrauterine growth restriction in ewes

  • C. O. Lemley (a1), L. E. Camacho (a1), A. M. Meyer (a1), M. Kapphahn (a1), J. S. Caton (a1) and K. A. Vonnahme (a1)...


Dietary melatonin supplementation during mid- to late-gestation increased umbilical artery blood flow and caused disproportionate fetal growth. This melatonin-induced increase in umbilical artery blood flow may alter nutrient availability to the fetus, which may lead to alterations in fetal size. The objectives of the current experiment were to determine amino acid (AA) and glucose concentrations as well as AA and glucose flux across the uteroplacenta using a mid- to late-gestation model of intrauterine growth restriction supplemented with dietary melatonin as a 2 × 2 factorial design. At day 50 of gestation, 32 ewes were supplemented with 5 mg of melatonin (MEL) or no melatonin (CON) and were allocated to receive 100% (adequate; ADQ) or 60% (restricted; RES) of nutrient requirements. On day 130 of gestation, uterine and umbilical blood flows were determined via Doppler ultrasonography during a non-survival surgery. Blood samples were collected under general anesthesia from the maternal saphenous artery, gravid uterine vein, umbilical artery, and umbilical vein for AA analysis and glucose. Total α-AA concentrations in maternal artery and gravid uterine vein were decreased (P < 0.05) in RES v. ADQ fed ewes. Maternal arterial − venous difference in total α-AA was increased (P ⩽ 0.01) in RES v. ADQ fed ewes, while total uterine α-AA flux was not different (P > 0.40) across all treatment groups. Fetal venous − arterial difference in total α-AA as well as uteroplacental flux of total α-AA were decreased (P < 0.05) in CON-RES v. CON-ADQ, and similar (P > 0.20) in MEL-RES v. CON-ADQ. Maternal concentrations and uterine flux of branched-chain AA (BCAA) were not different across all treatment groups; however, fetal uptake of BCAA was decreased (P < 0.05) in CON-RES v. CON-ADQ, and similar (P > 0.20) in MEL-RES v. CON-ADQ. Uterine uptake of glucose was not different (P ⩾ 0.08) across all treatment groups, while uteroplacental uptake of glucose was increased (P ⩽ 0.05) in RES v. ADQ ewes. In conclusion, maternal nutrient restriction increased maternal arterial − venous difference in total α-AA, while total uterine α-AA flux was unaffected by maternal nutrient restriction. Melatonin supplementation did not impact maternal serum concentrations or uterine flux of glucose or AA; however, melatonin did improve fetal BCAA uptake during maternal nutrient restriction.


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