Animal models for small for gestational age and fetal programming of adult disease

Horm Res. 2007;68(3):113-23. doi: 10.1159/000100545. Epub 2007 Mar 9.


Fetal growth retardation is a fetal adaptation in response to inadequate supply of oxygen and/or nutrients. Animal models of intrauterine growth retardation are an invaluable tool to question the genetic, molecular and cellular events that determine fetal growth and development. Rodent and non-litter bearing animals are mammalian system with similar embryology,anatomy and physiology to humans. Utilization of these systems has led to a greater understanding of the pathophysiology and consequences of intrauterine growth retardation. These observations are comparable to that observed in humans born small for gestational age, and are of interest because of the known association between poor fetal growth and development of adult disease. All the experimental manipulations described here have altered a number of metabolic and physiological variables, but the pattern of alterations seems to vary with the procedure and species employed. This review describes animal models for intrauterine growth retardation and assesses their potentials and limitations at aiming to improve strategies for the prevention of adult disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology*
  • Glucocorticoids / toxicity
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / physiology*
  • Kidney Diseases / etiology
  • Ligation
  • Mice
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / physiopathology
  • Protein Deficiency / complications
  • Rats
  • Sheep
  • Stress, Physiological / complications
  • Swine
  • Uterus / blood supply


  • Glucocorticoids