Effects of chronic hypoglycemia and euglycemic correction on lysine metabolism in fetal sheep

Sean W. Limesand, Paul J. Rozance, Laura D. Brown, William W. Hay

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34 Scopus citations


In this study, we determined rates of lysine metabolism in fetal sheep during chronic hypoglycemia and following euglycemic recovery and compared results with normal, age-matched euglycemic control fetuses to explain the adaptive response of protein metabolism to low glucose concentrations. Restriction of the maternal glucose supply to the fetus lowered the net rates of fetal (umbilical) glucose (42%) and lactate (36%) uptake, causing compensatory alterations in fetal lysine metabolism. The plasma lysine concentration was 1.9-fold greater in hypoglycemic compared with control fetuses, but the rate of fetal (umbilical) lysine uptake was not different. In the hypoglycemic fetuses, the lysine disposal rate also was higher than in control fetuses due to greater rates of lysine flux back into the placenta and into fetal tissue. The rate of CO2 excretion from lysine decarboxylation was 2.4-fold higher in hypoglycemic than control fetuses, indicating greater rates of lysine oxidative metabolism during chronic hypoglycemia. No differences were detected for rates of fetal protein accretion or synthesis between hypoglycemic and control groups, although there was a significant increase in the rate of protein breakdown (P < 0.05) in the hypoglycemic fetuses, indicating small changes in each rate. This was supported by elevated muscle specific ubiquitin ligases and greater concentrations of 4E-BP1. Euglycemic recovery after chronic hypoglycemia normalized all fluxes and actually lowered the rate of lysine decarboxylation compared with control fetuses (P < 0.05). These results indicate that chronic hypoglycemia increases net protein breakdown and lysine oxidative metabolism, both of which contribute to slower rates of fetal growth over time. Furthermore, euglycemic correction for 5 days returns lysine fluxes to normal and causes an overcorrection of lysine oxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E879-E887
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Amino acids
  • Glucose
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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