Parenteral administration of L-arginine enhances fetal survival and growth in sheep carrying multiple fetuses. Academic Article uri icon


  • The frequency of multiple fetuses has increased in human pregnancies due to assisted reproductive technologies. This translates into a greater proportion of premature and low-birth weight infants in the United States and worldwide. In addition, improvements in sheep breeding have resulted in new breeds with increased litter size but reduced fetal survival and birth weight. Currently, there are no treatments for preventing fetal growth restriction in humans or sheep (an established model for studying human fetal physiology) carrying multiple fetuses. In this work, Booroola Rambouillet ewes (FecB+/-) with 2-4 fetuses were fed a diet providing 100% of NRC-recommended nutrient requirements. Between d 100 and 121 of gestation, ewes received an i.v. bolus injection of either saline solution or 345 mol arginine-HCl/kg body weight 3 times daily. The arginine treatment reduced (P < 0.05) the percentage of lambs born dead by 23% while increasing (P = 0.05) the percentage of lambs born alive by 59%. The i.v. administration of arginine enhanced (P < 0.05) the birth weights of quadruplets by 23% without affecting maternal body weight. The improved pregnancy outcome was associated with an increase in maternal plasma concentrations of arginine, ornithine, cysteine, and proline, as well as a decrease in circulating levels of ammonia and -hydroxybutyrate. These novel results indicate that parenteral administration of arginine to prolific ewes ameliorated fetal mortality and growth retardation. Our findings provide support for experiments to assess the clinical use of arginine to enhance fetal growth and survival in women gestating multiple fetuses.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Lassala, A., Bazer, F. W., Cudd, T. A., Datta, S., Keisler, D. H., Satterfield, M. C., Spencer, T. E., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 104

complete list of authors

  • Lassala, Arantzatzu||Bazer, Fuller W||Cudd, Timothy A||Datta, Sujay||Keisler, Duane H||Satterfield, M Carey||Spencer, Thomas E||Wu, Guoyao

publication date

  • May 2011