Vascular placental insufficiency is considered a common pathogenic factor in human intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), resulting in small-for-gestational-age, asymmetric newborns. IUGR neonates experience higher morbidity and mortality rates, as well as a possible contribution towards late sequelae, such as hypertension, and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. To simulate vascular placental insufficiency, an experimental rabbit IUGR model was used. Intrauterine growth retardation was achieved by ligation of 25-30% uteroplacental vessels of half of the fetuses during the last third of gestation. Ischemic fetuses were significantly small, asymmetric, and had a disproportionately small body with a relatively large head. The kidneys from all groups were analyzed for relative estimated glomeruli number (REGN) using an unbiased blind design. The glomeruli number was significantly reduced in the asymmetric IUGR rabbit fetuses, probably due to decreased renal vascular supply. Our results support the concept that the reduced number of glomeruli may contribute to impaired renal function, thus predisposing to neonatal renal dysfunction and late sequelae, such as adult hypertension. This study emphasizes the clinical importance of early IUGR diagnosis and prevention.
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