The concentrations of progesterone, deoxycorticosterone (DOC), and deoxycorticosterone sulfate (DOC-SO4) were determined in mixed umbilical cord plasma of abortuses and newborn infants delivered between 18 and 42 weeks' gestation. A wide range of values among individual samples was found for progesterone (224 to 2,152 ng/ml), DOC (1.6 to 10.4 ng/ml), and DOC-SO4 (17 to 154 ng/ml). Levels of progesterone and DOC in mixed umbilical cord plasma were not correlated; those of DOC and DOC-SO4 were positively correlated significantly (r = 0.3945, P < 0.001). Whereas the mean plasma levels of DOC were similar throughout gestation, significant variation, as a function of gestational age, was found for progesterone and DOC-SO4, with levels of these steroids generally being higher near term than earlier in gestation. The administration of glucocorticosteroids to the mother resulted in a significant decrease (p < 0.001) in plasma concentrations of DOC and DOC-SO4 in the newborn infant; levels of progesterone in umbilical cord plasma were not affected by maternal glucocorticosteroid treatment. These results suggest that the fetal adrenal glands play a direct, or possibly an indirect, role in the production of the DOC and DOC-SO4 that is present in the fetal compartment. In addition, since fetal plasma levels of progesterone are quite high throughout gestation, the potential exists for circulating progesterone to serve as a precursor for adrenal and extra-adrenal production of DOC and DOC-SO4.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology