Physiological skeletal gains and losses in rat mothers during pregnancy and lactation are not observed following uteroplacental insufficiency Academic Article uri icon


  • Fluctuations in maternal bone mass during pregnancy and lactation facilitate calcium transfer to offspring. Uteroplacental insufficiency causes fetal growth restriction and programs poor adult bone health. We aimed to characterise maternal skeletal phenotype during normal pregnancy and pregnancy complicated by uteroplacental insufficiency. Uteroplacental restriction (Restricted) or sham surgery (Control) was performed on gestational Day 18 (term = 22 days) in pregnant Wistar-Kyoto rats. Maternal right femurs were collected on embryonic Day 20, postnatal Day 1 and Weeks 5, 7 and 9 postnatal. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to quantify global bone mineral content, density and body composition. Peripheral quantitative computed tomography was utilised to determine trabecular and cortical content, density, circumferences and strength. Control rats exhibited expected reductions in trabecular and cortical content, density and bone strength from embryonic Day 20 to postnatal Day 1 (P < 0.05). These skeletal alterations were absent in Restricted rats. By postnatal Day 7, bone parameters in Control and Restricted rats were not different from non-pregnant rats, indicating restoration of maternal bone. The lack of bone loss in mothers suffering uteroplacental insufficiency suggests that calcium transfer to pups would be impaired. This reduction in calcium availability is a likely contributor to the programming of poor adult bone health in growth-restricted offspring.

publication date

  • 2014