Effects of L-glutamine supplementation on maternal and fetal hemodynamics in gestating ewes exposed to alcohol

Onkar B. Sawant, Jayanth Ramadoss, Gary D. Hankins, Guoyao Wu, Shannon E. Washburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Not much is known about effects of gestational alcohol exposure on maternal and fetal cardiovascular adaptations. This study determined whether maternal binge alcohol exposure and L-glutamine supplementation could affect maternal-fetal hemodynamics and fetal regional brain blood flow during the brain growth spurt period. Pregnant sheep were randomly assigned to one of four groups: saline control, alcohol (1.75-2.5 g/kg body weight), glutamine (100 mg/kg body weight) or alcohol + glutamine. A chronic weekend binge drinking paradigm between gestational days (GD) 99 and 115 was utilized. Fetuses were surgically instrumented on GD 117 ± 1 and studied on GD 120 ± 1. Binge alcohol exposure caused maternal acidemia, hypercapnea, and hypoxemia. Fetuses were acidemic and hypercapnic, but not hypoxemic. Alcohol exposure increased fetal mean arterial pressure, whereas fetal heart rate was unaltered. Alcohol exposure resulted in ∼40 % reduction in maternal uterine artery blood flow. Labeled microsphere analyses showed that alcohol induced >2-fold increases in fetal whole brain blood flow. The elevation in fetal brain blood flow was region-specific, particularly affecting the developing cerebellum, brain stem, and olfactory bulb. Maternal L-glutamine supplementation attenuated alcohol-induced maternal hypercapnea, fetal acidemia and increases in fetal brain blood flow. l-Glutamine supplementation did not affect uterine blood flow. Collectively, alcohol exposure alters maternal and fetal acid-base balance, decreases uterine blood flow, and alters fetal regional brain blood flow. Importantly, l-glutamine supplementation mitigates alcohol-induced acid-base imbalances and alterations in fetal regional brain blood flow. Further studies are warranted to elucidate mechanisms responsible for alcohol-induced programming of maternal uterine artery and fetal circulation adaptations in pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1981-1996
Number of pages16
JournalAmino Acids
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Endothelium
  • FASD
  • L-Glutamine
  • Uterine
  • Vascular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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