PloS one

Weekly intra-amniotic IGF-1 treatment increases growth of growth-restricted ovine fetuses and up-regulates placental amino acid transporters.

PMID 22629469


Frequent treatment of the growth-restricted (IUGR) ovine fetus with intra-amniotic IGF-1 increases fetal growth. We aimed to determine whether increased growth was maintained with an extended dosing interval and to examine possible mechanisms. Pregnant ewes were allocated to three groups: Control, and two IUGR groups (induced by placental embolization) treated with weekly intra-amniotic injections of either saline (IUGR) or 360 µg IGF-1 (IGF1). IUGR fetuses were hypoxic, hyperuremic, hypoglycemic, and grew more slowly than controls. Placental glucose uptake and SLC2A1 (GLUT2) mRNA levels decreased in IUGR fetuses, but SLC2A3 (GLUT3) and SLC2A4 (GLUT4) levels were unaffected. IGF-1 treatment increased fetal growth rate, did not alter uterine blood flow or placental glucose uptake, and increased placental SLC2A1 and SLC2A4 (but not SLC2A3) mRNA levels compared with saline-treated IUGR animals. Following IGF-1 treatment, placental mRNA levels of isoforms of the system A, y(+), and L amino acid transporters increased 1.3 to 5.0 fold, while the ratio of phosphorylated-mTOR to total mTOR also tended to increase. Weekly intra-amniotic IGF-1 treatment provides a promising avenue for intra-uterine treatment of IUGR babies, and may act via increased fetal substrate supply, up-regulating placental transporters for neutral, cationic, and branched-chain amino acids, possibly via increased activation of the mTOR pathway.