Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a fetal complication of pregnancy epidemiologically linked to cardiovascular disease in the newborn later in life. However, the mechanism is poorly understood with very little research on the vascular structure and function during development in healthy and IUGR neonates. Previously, we found vascular remodeling and increased stiffness in the carotid and umbilical arteries, but here we examine the remodeling and biomechanics in the larger vessels more proximal to the heart. To study this question, thoracic and abdominal aortas were collected from a sheep model of placental insufficiency IUGR (PI-IUGR) due to exposure to elevated ambient temperatures. Aortas from control (n = 12) and PI-IUGR fetuses (n = 10) were analyzed for functional biomechanics and structural remodeling. PI-IUGR aortas had a significant increase in stiffness (P<0.05), increased collagen content (P<0.05), and decreased sulfated glycosaminoglycan content (P<0.05). Our derived constitutive model from experimental data related increased stiffness to reorganization changes of increased alignment angle of collagen fibers (γ) and increased elastin (P<0.05) in the thoracic aorta and increased concentration (κ) of collagen fibers in the abdominal aorta towards the circumferential direction verified through use of histological techniques. This fetal vascular remodeling in PI-IUGR may set the stage for possible altered growth and development and help to explain the pathophysiology of adult cardiovascular disease in previously IUGR individuals.
- Fetal Programming
- Vascular Remodeling
- Copyright © 2013, American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology