Antenatal glucocorticoid exposure and long-term alterations in aortic function and glucose metabolism

Brenda A Kelly, Adam J Lewandowski, Stephanie A Worton, Esther F Davis, Merzaka Lazdam, Jane Francis, Stefan Neubauer, Alan Lucas, Atul Singhal, Paul Leeson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    OBJECTIVE: Animal studies have demonstrated long-term effects of in utero glucocortcoid exposure on vascular development and glucose metabolism. We hypothesized that there would be a similar impact in humans.

    METHODS: One hundred and two young adults born preterm aged 23 to 28 years, with prospective data collection from birth, and 95 adults born term after uncomplicated pregnancies underwent cardiovascular MRI. We compared cardiac and aortic structure and function, as well as cardiovascular risk profile, in a nested case-control study of 16 participants exposed to antenatal steroids and 32 who were not, but with otherwise similar perinatal care. Outcomes were compared with normal ranges in those born term.

    RESULTS: Adults whose mothers had received antenatal steroids had decreased ascending aortic distensibility (9.88 ± 3.21 vs 13.62 ± 3.88 mm Hg(-1) × 10(3), P = .002) and increased aortic arch pulse wave velocity (5.45 ± 1.41 vs 4.47 ± 0.91 m/s, P = .006). The increase in stiffness was equivalent to that of term adults a decade older. Those who had in utero exposure to antenatal steroids also had significant differences in homeostatic model assessments for β-cell function (P = .010), but in multiple regression analysis this did not explain the impact of steroids on aortic function.

    CONCLUSIONS: Antenatal glucocorticoid exposure in preterm infants is associated with increased aortic arch stiffness and altered glucose metabolism in early adulthood.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e1282-90
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2012


    • Adult
    • Aorta, Thoracic
    • Blood Flow Velocity
    • Blood Glucose
    • Blood Pressure
    • Case-Control Studies
    • Female
    • Glucocorticoids
    • Humans
    • Insulin-Secreting Cells
    • Male
    • Pregnancy
    • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
    • Vascular Resistance
    • Young Adult
    • Journal Article
    • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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