Prenatal Stress Induces Skeletal Malformations in Mouse Embryos
Biomedical Science Letters
Dexamethasone, a synthetic glucocorticoid (GC), is clinically administered to woman at risk for premature labor to induce fetal lung maturation. However, exposure to repeated or excess GCs leads to intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and subsequently increases risk of psychiatric and cardio-metabolic diseases in later life through fetal programming mechanisms. GCs are key mediators of stress responses, therefore, maternal nutrient restriction or psychological stress during pregnancy also
... pregnancy also causes negative impacts on birth and neurodevelopment outcome of fetuses, and other congenital defects, such as craniofacial and skeletal abnormalities. In this study, to examine the effect of prenatal stress on fetal skeletal development, dexamethasone (1 mg/kg [DEX1] or 10 mg/kg [DEX10] maternal body weight per day) was administered intraperitoneally at gestational day 7.5~9.5 and the skeletons were prepared from embryos at day 18.5. Seven out of eighteen (39%) embryos treated with DEX10 showed axial skeletal abnormalities in either the T13 or L1 vertebrae. In addition, examination of the sternum revealed that xiphoid process, the protrusive triangular part of the lower end of the sternum, was bent more outward or inward in DEX group embryos. In conclusion, our findings suggest a possible link to the understanding of the effect of uterine environment to the fetal skeletal features.