ECG waveform, short term heart rate variability and plasma catecholamine concentrations in response to hypoxia in intrauterine growth retarded guinea-pig fetuses

J Dev Physiol. 1991 Mar;15(3):161-8.


After unilateral uterine artery ligation in midpregnancy twelve guinea-pig does were anesthetized at 63 days of gestation. The ST waveform of the fetal electrocardiogram and the short term heart rate variability were studied during normoxia and in response to acute hypoxia in growth retarded fetuses (n = 12, mean +/- SEM, 58.5 +/- 3.9 g) and their normal sized littermates (n = 12, 94.3 +/- 3.5 g). Hypoxia was induced by letting the doe breathe a low-oxygen gas mixture. After 10 min of hypoxia fetal blood was sampled by decapitation and blood gases, acid-base status and catecholamine concentrations were analyzed. The does responded to decrease in inspired oxygen concentration with changes in oxygen tension (13.8 +/- 0.8 to 4.3 +/- 0.2 kPa) and oxygen saturation (99.9 +/- 0.1% to 70.5 +/- 1.8%). Fetal blood gases and plasma catecholamine concentrations did not differ between the groups. In the growth retarded group standard bicarbonate was significantly lower compared to controls. The T/QRS ratio (the quotient between T wave height and QRS peak to peak amplitude) was normal and similar in both groups prior to the hypoxic period. In response to hypoxia T/QRS ratio increased in the normal sized group and T/QRS was correlated to carbon dioxide tension, oxygen saturation, pH, lactate, standard bicarbonate concentration, standard base excess and plasma noradrenaline concentration, respectively. The growth retarded fetuses presented a completely different pattern where 7 out of 12 fetuses showed a biphasic ST waveform during hypoxia with depression and downward sloping of the ST segment and negative T wave.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries
  • Bicarbonates / blood
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Catecholamines / blood*
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / complications
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology*
  • Fetal Hypoxia / complications
  • Fetal Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Heart Rate, Fetal*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterus / blood supply


  • Bicarbonates
  • Catecholamines
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen