Angiotensin-(1-7) Deficiency and Baroreflex Impairment Precede the Antenatal Betamethasone Exposure-Induced Elevation in Blood Pressure
Betamethasone is administered to accelerate lung development and improve survival of premature infants but may be associated with hypertension later in life. In a sheep model of fetal programming resulting from exposure at day 80 of gestation to Betamethasone (Beta-exposed), adult sheep at 6 to 9 months or 1.8 years of age have elevated mean arterial pressure (MAP) and attenuated spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity (sBRS) for control of heart rate compared to age-matched controls associated with imbalances in angiotensin (Ang) II vs Ang-(1-7) tone. At 6 weeks of age, evoked BRS is already low in the Beta-exposed animals. In this study, we assessed the potential contribution of the renin-angiotensin system to the impaired sBRS. Female lambs (6 weeks old) with Beta exposure in utero had similar MAP to control lambs (78±2 vs 77±2 mm Hg, n=4–5 per group), but lower sBRS (8±1 vs 16±3 ms/mm Hg; P<0.05) and impaired heart rate variability. Peripheral AT1 receptor blockade using candesartan lowered MAP in both groups (≈ 10 mm Hg) and improved sBRS and heart rate variability in Beta-exposed lambs to a level similar to control. AT7 receptor blockade by infusion of D-ala Ang-(1-7) (700 ng/kg/min for 45 minutes) reduced sBRS 46%±10% in Beta-exposed vs in control lambs (P<0.15) and increased MAP in both groups (≈ 6±2 mm Hg). Our data reveal that Beta exposure impairs sBRS and heart rate variability at a time point preceding the elevation in MAP via mechanisms involving an imbalance in the Ang II/Ang-(1-7) ratio consistent with a progressive loss in Ang-(1-7) function.
- Received October 10, 2011.
- Revision received November 2, 2011.
- Accepted December 6, 2011.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.