Amino Acids

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 1605–1623 | Cite as

Improving amino acid nutrition to prevent intrauterine growth restriction in mammals

  • Gang Lin
  • Xiaoqiu Wang
  • Guoyao Wu
  • Cuiping Feng
  • Huaijun Zhou
  • Defa Li
  • Junjun Wang
Invited Review


Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is one of the most common concerns in human obstetrics and domestic animal production. It is usually caused by placental insufficiency, which decreases fetal uptake of nutrients (especially amino acids) from the placenta. Amino acids are not only building blocks for protein but also key regulators of metabolic pathways in fetoplacental development. The enhanced demands of amino acids by the developing conceptus must be met via active transport systems across the placenta as normal pregnancy advances. Growing evidence indicates that IUGR is associated with a reduction in placental amino acid transport capacity and metabolic pathways within the embryonic/fetal development. The positive relationships between amino acid concentrations in circulating maternal blood and placental amino acid transport into fetus encourage designing new therapies to prevent or treat IUGR by enhancing amino acid availability in maternal diets or maternal circulation. Despite the positive effects of available dietary interventions, nutritional therapy for IUGR is still in its infancy. Based on understanding of the underlying mechanisms whereby amino acids promote fetal growth and of their dietary requirements by IUGR, supplementation with functional amino acids (e.g., arginine and glutamine) hold great promise for preventing fetal growth restriction and improving health and growth of IUGR offspring.


Amino acids Fetus Intervention IUGR Nutrition Placenta Pregnancy 



Appropriate for gestational age


Branched-chain amino acids


Endothelial nitric oxide synthase


Intrauterine growth restriction


Mammalian target of rapamycin


Normal birth weight


Nitric oxide


National research council


Ornithine decarboxylase


Small for gestational age



This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 30810103902, 30972156, 31129006, 31272449, and 31272450), and Texas A&M AgriLife Research (H-8200).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gang Lin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaoqiu Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guoyao Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cuiping Feng
    • 3
  • Huaijun Zhou
    • 4
  • Defa Li
    • 1
  • Junjun Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Animal NutritionChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Animal ScienceTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyChina-Japan Friendship HospitalBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of Animal ScienceUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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