Utilization of maternal and fetal androstenedione for placental estrogen production at mid and late baboon pregnancy

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1992 Feb;41(2):171-8. doi: 10.1016/0960-0760(92)90045-k.


The present study determined the placental and whole-body metabolism of androstenedione originating in the maternal and fetal compartments of the pregnant baboon at mid (day 100; n = 4) and late (day 165; n = 3) gestation (term = day 184) in untreated animals and at midgestation in animals (n = 3) treated with pellets (50 mg) of androstenedione inserted at 8-day intervals in the mother between days 70 and 100 of gestation. Baboons were anesthetized with ketamine-halothane-nitrous oxide, blood samples obtained from maternal, uterine, fetal and umbilical vessels during constant infusion of [3H] or [14C]androstenedione via the fetal or maternal circulation, respectively, and radiolabeled precursor/products in plasma purified by HPLC. The metabolic clearance rate (MCR; 1/day/kg body wt) of androstenedione in the mother was similar at mid (81 +/- 6) and late (69 +/- 12) gestation and was unaltered by treatment with androstenedione (92 +/- 17). Fetal MCR of androstenedione was 3-fold greater (P less than 0.05) than in the mother and was similar in the three treatment groups. In the maternal compartment, the conversion ratio of androstenedione to estradiol (range 26-37%) exceeded (P less than 0.05) that to testosterone (range 15-19%) which exceeded (P less than 0.05) that to estrone (range 7-14%), a pattern unaffected by stage of gestation or treatment with androstenedione in vivo. Similar results were observed in the fetal compartment although values for each conversion were always 3-4-fold lower (P less than 0.05) than in the maternal compartment. Regardless of stage of gestation or treatment with androstenedione, [14C]estradiol in the uterine vein (95 +/- 15 cpm/ml) exceeded (P less than 0.05) that in the umbilical vein (3 +/- 1) indicative of preferential secretion of estradiol to the maternal compartment. In contrast, the concentration of [14C]estrone in uterine (15 +/- 4) and umbilical (18 +/- 4) vessels were similar indicating that estrone was secreted equally into the mother and fetus. Similar observations were noted for respective values for [3H]estrogens derive from fetal [3H]androstenedione. Placental extraction of fetal androstenedione (range 86-93%) exceeded (P less than 0.05) that for androstenedione originating in the mother (range 44-54%) and neither were affected by stage of gestation or treatment with androstenedione in vivo. Less than 1% of fetal [3H]androstenedione reached the maternal circulation unaltered, presumably due to placental catabolism. Similarly, the concentration of maternally-derived [14C]androstenedione present in fetal plasma (less than 5%) was minimal.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androstenedione / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Papio
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy


  • Estrogens
  • Androstenedione