Concentrations of corticotrophin-releasing hormone in the umbilical-cord blood of pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia

Robin S. Goland, Pamela J. Troppe, Wendy B. Warren, Raymond I. Stark, Sheila M. Jozak, Irene M. Conwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


The effect of pre-eclampsia on concentrations of corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) in umbilical-cord blood of fetuses at delivery was studied in order to determine if fetal CRH is elevated in this disorder when compared with uncomplicated pregnancy. Placental CRH may be a regulator of fetal pituitary-adrenal function and we therefore also measured ACTH, cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) in the umbilical-cord blood. The mean umbilical-cord plasma CRH in the fetuses from pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia, 667±153 pg mL-1, was significantly higher than the plasma CRH in the fetuses from normotensive pregnancies, 185±22 pg mL-1 (P < 0-001). The mean fetal cortisol concentration was significantly higher in pre-eclampsia, than in the normotensive, pregnancies (pre-eclampsia, 13-5±1-8; normotensive, 7-6±1-3g dL-1; P <0-001). Plasma DHEAS was 217±23 g dL-1 in the umbilical-cord blood of the fetuses from pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia and 281 ±35 g dL-1 in the normotensive pregnancies (P < 0-01). Placental CRH synthesis and release, in contrast to hypothalamic CRH, appears to be stimulated by glucocorticoids. In pregnancies complicated by uteroplacental insufficiency, as may occur in pre-eclampsia, placental CRH production may be enhanced by increased fetal glucocorticoids. In turn, placental CRH may modulate fetal pituitary-adrenal steroidogenesis to favour increased cortisol secretion. Thus, placental CRH may play an important role in the fetal response to a compromised intrauterine environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1227-1230
Number of pages4
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenal
  • Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH)
  • Cortisol
  • Fetus
  • Pituitary
  • Placenta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Developmental Biology


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