Parenteral administration of L-arginine prevents fetal growth restriction in undernourished ewes. Academic Article uri icon


  • Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a major health problem worldwide that currently lacks an effective therapeutic solution. This study was conducted with an ovine IUGR model to test the hypothesis that parenteral administration of l-arginine (Arg) is effective in enhancing fetal growth. Beginning on d 28 of gestation, ewes were fed a diet providing 100% (control-fed) or 50% (underfed) of NRC-recommended nutrient requirements. Between d 60 of gestation and parturition, underfed ewes received i.v. infusions of saline or 155 micromol Arg-HCl/kg body weight 3 times daily, whereas control-fed ewes received only saline. The birth weights of lambs from saline-infused underfed ewes were 23% lower (P < 0.01) than those of lambs from control-fed dams. Administration of Arg to underfed ewes increased (P < 0.01) concentrations of Arg (69%), ornithine (55%), proline (29%), methionine (37%), leucine (36%), isoleucine (35%), cysteine (19%), and FFA (43%) in maternal serum, decreased maternal circulating levels of ammonia (18%) and triglycerides (32%), and enhanced birth weights of lambs by 21% compared with saline-infused underfed ewes. There was no difference in birth weights of lambs between the control-fed and the Arg-infused underfed ewes. These novel results indicate that parenteral administration of Arg to underfed ewes prevented fetal growth restriction and provide support for its clinical use to ameliorate IUGR in humans. The findings also lay a new framework for studying cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of Arg in regulating conceptus growth and development.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr

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

  • 114

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

  • January 2010