Renal responses to amino acids in the sheep fetus

Lori L. Woods, A. Roger Hohimer, Lowell E. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Adult animals and humans are known to increase renal blood flow and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in response to an acute protein load or amino acid infusion; however, the ontogeny of this phenomenon is not known. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that, despite normally high baseline amino acid levels in the fetus, increases in plasma amino acids stimulate increases in GFR before birth. Eight chronically instrumented fetal sheep ( 126 ± 1 days gestation) were infused with a mixture of amino acids (0.15 and 0.30 mmol · kg-1 · min-1 iv). Plasma α-amino nitrogen levels increased significantly from 7.1 ± 0.3 to 13.0 ± 0.9 and 25.5 ± 2.1 mg/dl, respectively, in response to the two doses, and GFR increased significantly from 3.2 ± 0.4 to 4.0 ± 0.5 and 4.6 ± 0.5 ml/min, respectively. Arterial pressure did not change. Renal amino acid reabsorption was significantly increased at all time points during the amino acid infusion, reaching a value nearly five times that of control by the last clearance period. Na+ reabsorption was also increased throughout the infusion. Na+, K+, and C1 excretions increased significantly only st the very last time point. These data indicate that the mechanism or mechanisms responsible for amino acid- induced hyperfiltration are present and functional even before birth in the sheep. Because maternal eating patterns and protein intake are known to change maternal plasma amino acid levels and amino acids are actively transported across the placenta, our findings suggest that both acute and chronic changes in maternal protein intake may alter fetal renal function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1226-R1230
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 39-6
StatePublished - Jun 1996


  • dietary protein
  • glomerular filtration rate
  • kidney
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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