Continuous intravenous infusions of saline or of a placental extract containing ovine placental lactogen were given to three non-pregnant, non-lactating ewes over periods of 36 h, 1 week apart. During saline infusion no placental lactogen was detected in jugular vein plasma, but infusion of the placental extract raised the placental lactogen concentration from undetectable to 40-50 μg/l, similar to concentrations in ewes with one fetus on day 90 of pregnancy. By comparison with the saline control period, infusion of the placental extract consistently increased both plasma concentrations and irreversible loss of non-esterified fatty acids. Plasma concentrations of glucose and urea, but not irreversible loss of these metabolites, were consistently increased. Although the placental extract was not subjected to extensive purification, it was enriched in placental lactogen and contained no detectable contamination with insulin, prolactin or growth hormone. The results are suggestive of a role for placental lactogen in modifying metabolism and acting during pregnancy to provide nutrients for fetal metabolism.
J. Endocr. (1987) 113, 277–283
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