Uterine and fetal blood flow indexes and fetal growth assessment after chronic estrogen suppression in the second half of baboon pregnancy

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 Mar;298(3):H881-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00611.2009. Epub 2009 Dec 18.


Although estrogen regulates important aspects of maternal cardiovascular physiology, the role of estrogen on uteroplacental and fetal blood flow is incompletely understood. This study tested the hypothesis that chronically suppressing endogenous estrogen production during the second half of baboon pregnancy alters uterine and fetal blood flow dynamics assessed by ultrasonography. Pregnant baboons were untreated or treated daily with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole or letrozole plus estradiol on days 100-160 of gestation (term = 184 days). Blood flow dynamics were determined by Doppler ultrasonography on day 60 and longitudinally between days 110 and 160 of gestation. Letrozole decreased maternal serum estradiol and estrone concentrations by 95% (P < 0.001). Fetal growth biometrical parameters increased (P < 0.001) between days 110 and 160 of gestation and were similar in untreated and letrozole-treated animals. Uterine, umbilical, and fetal middle cerebral artery pulsatility index and resistance index declined (P < 0.01) by 30-50% and uterine artery volume flow increased sixfold (P < 0.001) between days 60 and 160, but values were similar in untreated, letrozole-treated, and letrozole plus estradiol-treated baboons. Thus uterine and fetal artery blood flow indexes, uterine artery volume flow, and fetal growth were maintained at normal levels despite chronic estrogen suppression in the second half of baboon pregnancy. This suggests that elevated levels of endogenous estrogen are not required to maintain low impedance blood flow within the uteroplacental vascular bed during the second half of nonhuman primate pregnancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estrogens / deficiency*
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / drug effects
  • Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Fetus / blood supply*
  • Letrozole
  • Models, Animal
  • Nitriles / pharmacology
  • Papio anubis
  • Placental Circulation / drug effects
  • Placental Circulation / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal / drug effects
  • Pregnancy, Animal / physiology*
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology*
  • Triazoles / pharmacology
  • Umbilical Arteries / physiology
  • Uterus / blood supply*


  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Estrogens
  • Nitriles
  • Triazoles
  • Estradiol
  • Letrozole