Maternal and fetal cord blood lipids in intrauterine growth restriction

J Perinat Med. 2012 Jan 6;40(3):287-96. doi: 10.1515/jpm.2011.135.


Aim: Small for gestational age neonates (SGA) could be subdivided into two groups according to the underlying causes leading to low birth weight. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a pathologic condition with diminished growth velocity and fetal compromised well-being, while non-growth restricted SGA neonates are constitutionally (genetically determined) small. Antenatal sonographic measurements are used to differentiate these two subgroups. Maternal metabolic changes contribute to the pathogenesis of IUGR. A disturbed lipid metabolism and cholesterol supply might affect the fetus, with consequences for fetal programming of cardiovascular diseases. We evaluated fetal serum lipids and hypothesized a more atherogenic lipoprotein profile in IUGR fetuses.

Methods: Umbilical cord serum lipids and oxidative modified, low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) concentrations were measured by colorimetric enzymatic measurements, or by ELISA. Values of IUGR (n=36) and constitutionally small for gestational age neonates (SGA, n=22) were compared with those of healthy, adequate for gestational age, born neonates (CN, n=97). SAS-statistic software was used and two-way ANOVA was adjusted for gestational age at delivery.

Results: Fetal high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and total cholesterol (TC) concentrations were found to be lower in the IUGR compared to the CN and SGA groups (HDL-C: P<0.001, TC: P<0.01). Atherogenic indices, including the oxLDL/LDL-C ratio, were increased in the IUGR compared to the CN group (oxLDL/LDL-C ratio: P<0.001).

Conclusion: Our results support the hypothesis of a disturbed cholesterol supply in IUGR fetuses. Born SGA has been shown to be a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease later in life. Since HDL-C has anti-inflammatory properties, a reduced HDL-C during fetal development, and an increase in atherogenic indices, might provide a link to this observation in IUGR fetuses.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / blood
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / blood
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Male
  • Pre-Eclampsia / blood
  • Pregnancy / blood
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein
  • Cholesterol