The possible transfer of high-specific activity 3H-epinphrine from maternal circulation to the fetal heart was studied. Different hormones were administered to pregnant rats to determine the effects of endocrine function in permeability of catecholaminesthrough the placenta. The perfusion of 60 µ Ci3H-epinephrine to ratspregnant for 21 days resulted in a significant accumulation of the tracer in the fetal heart. This accumulation was markedly declined by pre-administration of progesterone, estrogens, and oxytocin in the pregnant rats and by maternal adrenalectomy or hypophysectomy. Similar treatment produced highly significant increases in the transformation of 3H-epinephrine to 3H-metanephrine and 3H-acid metabolites in the fetal heart. The maximum increases in catecholamine metabolite formation in the fetal heart were observed following maternal adrenalectomy and hypophysectomy. The results suggest that there is an appreciable transfer of catecholamines and their metabolites from the maternal circulation to the fetal heart on the 21st day of pregnancy. The treatment with different hormones modifies this transfer to a significant extent and could be attributed to the direct action of these hormones on catecholamine regulation.

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