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Maternal vitamin C deficiency during pregnancy results in transient fetal and placental growth retardation in guinea pigs

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An Erratum to this article was published on 01 May 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Recently, we reported that preferential maternal–fetal vitamin C (vitC) transport across the placenta is likely to be impaired by prolonged maternal vitC deficiency. Maintenance of a basal maternal vitC supply at the expense of the fetus may impair fetal development; however, the knowledge of vitC’s impact on intrauterine development is sparse. The aim of this study was to explore the effect of maternal vitC status on fetal and placental development in guinea pigs.

Methods

Twenty pregnant Dunkin Hartley guinea pigs were randomized into four groups to receive diets either sufficient (918 mg/kg CTRL) or deficient (100 mg/kg DEF) in vitC. Cesarean sections at gestational day (GD) 45 or 56 allowed for fetal and placental measurements.

Results

At GD45, body, brain and placental weights were significantly reduced in DEF pups compared with CTRL (p < 0.05, p < 0.001 and p < 0.05, respectively). DEF plasma vitC levels were ~6 % of those of CTRL (p < 0.0001), and the fetal/maternal plasma vitC ratio was significantly reduced at GD56 in the DEF animals compared with controls (p = 0.035). Placental vitC levels were reduced in DEF animals (p < 0.0001) and the ascorbate oxidation ratio and glutathione elevated compared with controls (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

Although no clinical differences between CTRL and DEF pups were observed at GD56, the present data suggest that vitC plays a role in early fetal development. Although no clinical differences between CTRL and DEF pups were observed at GD56, the present data suggest that vitC plays a role in early fetal development. Low maternal vitC intake during pregnancy may compromise maternal weight gain, placental function and intrauterine development.

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Acknowledgments

Annie B. Kristensen, Elisabeth V. Andersen and Joan Frandsen are thanked for excellent assistance. Christian Ritz is thanked for helpful comments about the statistical analysis. This study was supported by the Danish Research Councils and the LifePharm Centre for in vivo pharmacology.

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All authors declare no conflicts of interest that could influence the present work.

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Schjoldager, J.G., Paidi, M.D., Lindblad, M.M. et al. Maternal vitamin C deficiency during pregnancy results in transient fetal and placental growth retardation in guinea pigs. Eur J Nutr 54, 667–676 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-014-0809-6

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