Document Detail

Maternal antenatal anxiety and amniotic fluid cortisol and testosterone: possible implications for foetal programming.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18266948     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Both animal and human studies have shown that maternal stress or anxiety during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of disturbance in offspring neurodevelopment and behaviour. In animal models, increased foetal exposure to glucocorticoids has been found to be one mechanism for such foetal programming. Little is understood of the mediating mechanisms in humans, and one aim of our research programme is to investigate this further. This review presents a synopsis of some of our recent results. We aimed to test the hypothesis that maternal anxiety was associated with raised maternal cortisol, and that this in turn was related to increased foetal exposure to cortisol. We studied this by recruiting women at amniocentesis, obtained their Spielberger State Anxiety scores, and assessed maternal plasma cortisol and amniotic fluid cortisol. We also examined maternal plasma and amniotic fluid testosterone levels. Awaiting amniocentesis was in general anxiogenic, but with a wide range of anxiety scores. Maternal anxiety was significantly associated with plasma cortisol before 17 weeks, albeit of modest magnitude (r = 0.0.23), and not after 17 weeks of gestation. This is probably due to the known attenuation of the maternal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis with increasing gestation. We found a strong correlation between maternal plasma and amniotic fluid cortisol levels, which increased with gestation and became robust after 18 weeks. This correlation increased with maternal anxiety, suggesting a possible effect of maternal mood on placental function. There was a positive correlation between cortisol and testosterone in amniotic fluid, in both male and female foetuses independent of maternal anxiety, plasma testosterone, gestational age, and time of collection. Foetal stress may be associated with increased foetal exposure to testosterone. However, maternal anxiety did not predict amniotic fluid cortisol or testosterone level. Thus, the role of these hormones in mediating the effect of maternal mood on foetal development in humans remains to be demonstrated.
P Sarkar; K Bergman; T G O'Connor; V Glover
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review     Date:  2008-02-08
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of neuroendocrinology     Volume:  20     ISSN:  1365-2826     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Neuroendocrinol.     Publication Date:  2008 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2008-03-26     Completed Date:  2008-06-18     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8913461     Medline TA:  J Neuroendocrinol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  489-96     Citation Subset:  IM    
Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus, London, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Amniocentesis / psychology
Amniotic Fluid / chemistry*
Anxiety / complications*
Developmental Disabilities / etiology
Fetal Development / drug effects,  physiology*
Hydrocortisone / analysis,  blood,  pharmacology,  physiology*
Pregnancy Complications / blood,  etiology*,  physiopathology
Pregnancy Outcome
Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology,  physiopathology
Research Design
Stress, Psychological / complications,  physiopathology
Testosterone / analysis,  pharmacology,  physiology*
Reg. No./Substance:
50-23-7/Hydrocortisone; 58-22-0/Testosterone

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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