Antenatal Sildenafil Citrate Treatment in a Mouse Model of Fetal Growth Restriction: Effects on Fetus and Offspring.

    Student thesis: Unknown


    Fetal growth restriction (FGR), when a fetus fails to reach its genetic growth potential, affects up to 10 % of pregnancies and is a major risk factor for both neonatal and adulthood morbidity and mortality. There are currently no treatments for FGR except for delivery of the fetus; resulting in premature delivery which, in itself, is linked to poor outcome. Therefore, the focus of current research is to examine whether therapies successfully used to treat diseases with similar aetiologies to FGR can also be used to treat FGR. Sildenafil citrate (SC), a selective phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor, is one such candidate. With the recent announcement of the STRIDER international clinical trial for the treatment of severe FGR with SC, it is imperative to determine the efficacy and safety of SC treatment on both fetus in utero and long-term adult health. Mouse models that mimic characteristics of human FGR represent an attractive model to perform pre-clinical studies. Recent studies in mice have demonstrated that SC increased fetal and placental weight and normalised umbilical artery blood flow velocity in FGR but no studies have assessed effects of antenatal SC on offspring health. The aims of this study were to assess the effect of antenatal SC treatment on a) fetal weight b) fetal vascular reactivity b) pup viability and d) long-term effects on postnatal development / physiology in a mouse model of FGR.All experiments were performed in the placental-specific insulin-like growth factor 2 knockout mouse (Igf2 P0+/- mice) which have mixed litters of wild-type (WT) and growth restricted (P0) mice. It has been reported that SC administered in the drinking water was able to increase P0 fetal weight and thus this mouse model was chosen to assess the effects of SC on the fetus and offspring. SC was administered to pregnant dams in two regimens; orally (120 - 160 and subcutaneously (10 between E12.5 and E18.5. WT and P0 fetal abdominal aortas were isolated at E18.5 and ex vivo vascular function was assessed using wire myography. Fetal abdominal aortas demonstrated reliable and reproducible vasocontraction and vasorelaxation; there were some sex- and genotype-specific differences. SC demonstrated dose-dependent effects on fetal aortic function. Offspring from dams treated with a subcutaneous injection of SC or saline were assessed for postnatal growth (week 5 - week 12), systolic blood pressure (week 8 and week 13), glucose tolerance (week 12) and mesenteric / aortic vascular function (week 14 - week 16). These experiments demonstrated that;• A supratherapeutic concentration of antenatal SC (120 - 160 did not increase fetal weight but significantly blunted relaxation responses of fetal abdominal aortas at E18.5. • A subcutaneous injection of antenatal SC (10 did not increase fetal weight or alter fetal abdominal aortic function in mice but led to increased systolic blood pressure in both WT and P0 offspring. Additionally, glucose sensitivity was significantly reduced in female offspring from SC treated dams.In conclusion, the studies outlined in this thesis have demonstrated that antenatal SC treatment can cause alterations in fetal blood vessel function and also lead to changes in metabolic and cardiovascular function in mouse offspring. Using ex vivo wire myography, mouse fetal abdominal aortas were able to be assessed at E18.5. This methodological advance will be beneficial as it can be applied to assessing putative treatments in mice that show characteristics of human FGR. In addition, this technique will allow for investigation of the underlying mechanisms of in utero programming of adulthood cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension. Future work must focus on the mechanisms leading to increased systolic blood pressure in offspring from SC treated dams and whether such effects are noted in other animal models of FGR using a variety of SC dosing regimens. These studies will provide information with
    Date of Award1 Aug 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorMark Wareing (Supervisor), Susan Greenwood (Supervisor) & Mark Dilworth (Supervisor)


    • Mouse
    • Sildenafil citrate
    • Fetal Growth Restriction

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