Background: Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is a common problem in human and other species and increases the risk of death of the fetus and newborn during the perinatal period.
Objectives: This study was conducted to examine the influences of intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) on development of the gastrointestinal tract in newborn pigs.
Methods: Ten animals from five litters were divided into five piglets with IUGR and five with normal birth-weight (NW). The IUGR category comprised animals with a birth weight 2 SD below the mean birth weight of the total population, while the NW category included animals with a birth weight within one SD of the mean birth weight in the total population. Animals were anesthetized and sampled within 2-4 h after birth and without suckling. The morphological changes of intestine and stomach of IUGR piglets were compared with NW ones. The expressions of IGF-I and receptors for growth hormone and insulin in intestinal mucosa were semiquantified using reverse transcription PCR.
Results: The results of our study indicated that the weights of the stomach, small intestine and small intestinal mucosa were significantly lower in IUGR compared with NW piglets (p<0.01). In addition, the lengths of the small intestine and colon in IUGR pigs were also significantly less than those of NW (p<0.05). Furthermore, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) mRNA level in intestinal mucosa of IUGR piglets was increased significantly (p<0.05), and the expression mRNA levels of insulin receptor and growth hormone (GH) receptor in the mucosa in IUGR piglets showed a tendency to be lower (p=0.17 and p=0.11, respectively) than those of the NW animals.
Conclusion: We conclude from the data that IUGR affects intestinal growth and morphology and is in associated with altered gene expression of growth-related proteins. We speculate that the morphological change and associated altered endocrine homeostasis contribute to lower growth rates of pigs affected by IUGR.
Copyright (c) 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel.