Acute fetal hypoxemia increases the vascular resistance of the umbilical veins as well as that of the liver. Because, at least in the human, the umbilical-placental circulation has no autonomic innervation, circulating hormones could well be responsible for this increase in umbilical-placental outflow resistance. In chronically instrumented fetal sheep, norepinephrine, epinephrine, vasopressin, and angiotensin II were infused in sequentially increasing doses into the descending aorta and vascular resistance to umbilical-placental blood flow was measured. Norepinephrine and epinephrine increased the vascular resistance of the umbilical veins in a dose-dependent manner. Both catecholamines also increased the vascular resistance of the liver, resulting in an increase in ductus venosus blood flow. In contrast, vasopressin and angiotensin II had no effect on umbilical-placental outflow resistance. Thus catecholamines may be responsible for the increase in the vascular resistance of the umbilical veins and liver in response to acute fetal hypoxemia.
- Copyright © 1991 the American Physiological Society