Maternal blood glucose, foetal blood glucose and liver carbohydrate levels were estimated after foetuses were injected with glucagon through the uterine wall on days 19½, 20½ and 21½ of gestation in the rat.
Glucagon had a hyperglycaemic effect in the foetus on all the days studied but the response was greater and more rapid on day 21½ of gestation. Glucagon was shown to decrease liver glycogen on day 20½ and 21½ but again the response was more rapid and more pronounced on day 21½.
The normal levels of foetal liver glycogen were similar to those previously found but the normal foetal blood glucose values are lower than previous results. Decrease in liver glycogen observed in the control group of foetuses on day 21½ of gestation together with a loss in foeto-maternal blood glucose relationship on that day of gestation suggest that on day 21½ the foetal rat develops the ability to mobilize hepatic glycogen and thereby to alter its blood glucose level independently from the mother.
The significance of the low blood glucose levels found in the foetus is discussed.