Corticotropin releasing hormone concentrations in umbilical cord blood of preterm fetuses

P. J. Tropper, W. B. Warren, S. M. Jozak, I. M. Conwell, R. I. Stark, R. S. Goland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and cortisol were measured in umbilical cord plasma obtained from 90 preterm and 98 term fetuses. Maternal plasma was obtained from 23 women who delivered preterm and from 23 women matched for gestational age who ultimately delivered term infants. Mean umbilical cord plasma CRH concentration was significantly higher in the preterm fetuses (n = 69, 538 ± 63 pg/ml) compared to the term fetuses (n = 98, 280 ± 22 pg/ml, P < 0.01). Mean DHEAS level in the preterm fetuses was 208 ± 22 mg/dl (n = 56), cortisol level was 7 ± 1 mg/dl (n = 58). Umbilical plasma CRH concentrations (808 ± 170 pg/ml) were significantly higher at 24-27 weeks than at 28-31 or 31-34 weeks gestation. Cortisol levels (12 ± 3 μg/dl) were highest at 24-27 weeks. Mode of delivery and the presence of labor did not affect fetal CRH levels. The highest fetal CRH levels were measured in the pregnancies complicated by hypertension as well as prematurity; however, fetal CRH levels remained higher in the preterm group compared to the term group when hypertensive pregnancies were excluded. Maternal plasma CRH levels were significantly higher in the group that delivered preterm compared to women who delivered at term matched for gestational age (1058 ± 184 pg/ml compared to 456 ± 71 pg/ml, P < 0.00). We conclude that the elevation in CRH seen in the preterm fetuses may be the result of the pregnancy complications which characterize this group of infants and that placental CRH may be playing a role in modulation of fetal pituitary-adrenal function in these complicated pregnancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-85
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Developmental Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Physiology


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