The physiological role of placental lactogen (PL; chorionic somatomammotrophin) in the ewe has been investigated by infusion of ewes (n = 3) on day 131 of pregnancy with sufficient ovine PL (oPL) antibody to neutralize circulating oPL for at least 12 h. Effectiveness of the antibody neutralization was defined both in vitro and in vivo according to rigorous criteria. Control ewes (n = 3) were infused simultaneously with an equivalent amount of pooled goat gamma globulin. Since both sets of ewes had previously been catheterized with jugular, utero-ovarian and femoral vein catheters and a femoral arterial catheter, it was possible to measure whole body glucose kinetics as well as muscle and uterine glucose, free fatty acid (FFA) and 3-hydroxybutyrate extraction. In addition, plasma levels of insulin, GH, prolactin, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), IGF-II, progesterone and cholesterol were determined in femoral arterial samples.
Neutralization of maternal oPL did not significantly affect whole body glucose metabolism, uterine and muscle glucose extraction, or 3-hydroxybutyrate extraction by muscle. A trend towards lower plasma FFA levels was observed after prolonged infusion, but was not statistically significant. However, plasma insulin levels rose significantly during antibody infusion after an early fall. These observations are rationalized in terms of the known requirements of ruminant metabolism during pregnancy, and contrasted with the accepted model for the role of human PL in the metabolic adjustments of pregnancy.
No change in plasma IGF-I, IGF-II or GH was observed, providing no support for the concept that oPL is responsible for maternal somatomedin generation during pregnancy. Similarly, plasma prolactin did not differ between antibody-treated and control groups. Finally, antibody neutralization had no influence on either plasma progesterone or cholesterol, mitigating against a role for oPL in progesterone production during late pregnancy in the ewe.
J. Endocr. (1985) 106, 377–386