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Maternal nutrient restriction during pregnancy and lactation leads to impaired right ventricular function in young adult baboons

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The Journal of Physiology

Published online on


Key points Maternal nutrient restriction induces intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and leads to heightened cardiovascular risks later in life. We report right ventricular (RV) filling and ejection abnormalities in IUGR young adult baboons using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Both functional and morphological indicators of poor RV function were seen, many of which were similar to effects of ageing, but also with a few key differences. We observed more pronounced RV changes compared to our previous report of the left ventricle, suggesting there is likely to be a component of isolated RV abnormality in addition to expected haemodynamic sequelae from left ventricular dysfunction. In particular, our findings raise the suspicion of pulmonary hypertension after IUGR. This study establishes that IUGR also leads to impairment of the right ventricle in addition to the left ventricle classically studied. Abstract Maternal nutrient restriction induces intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), increasing later life chronic disease including cardiovascular dysfunction. Our left ventricular (LV) CMRI studies in IUGR baboons (8 M, 8 F, 5.7 years – human equivalent approximately 25 years), control offspring (8 M, 8 F, 5.6 years), and normal elderly (OLD) baboons (6 M, 6 F, mean 15.9 years) revealed long‐term LV abnormalities in IUGR offspring. Although it is known that right ventricular (RV) function is dependent on LV health, the IUGR right ventricle remains poorly studied. We examined the right ventricle with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in the same cohorts. We observed decreased ejection fraction (49 ± 2 vs. 33 ± 3%, P < 0.001), cardiac index (2.73 ± 0.27 vs. 1.89 ± 0.20 l min−1 m−2, P < 0.05), early filling rate/body surface area (BSA) (109.2 ± 7.8 vs. 44.6 ± 7.3 ml s−1 m−2, P < 0.001), wall thickening (61 ± 3 vs. 44 ± 5%, P < 0.05), and longitudinal shortening (26 ± 3 vs. 15 ± 2%, P < 0.01) in IUGR animals with increased chamber volumes. Many, but not all, of these changes share similarities to normal older animals. Our findings suggest IUGR‐induced pulmonary hypertension should be further investigated and that atrial volume, pulmonic outflow and interventricular septal motion may provide valuable insights into IUGR cardiovascular physiology. Overall, our findings reaffirm that gestational and neonatal challenges can result in long‐term programming of poor offspring cardiovascular health. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting IUGR‐induced programmed adult RV dysfunction in an experimental primate model.