Blood samples (4 ml) for plasma arginine vasopressin (AVP) measurements were obtained at 3- to 4-hour intervals under basal conditions for 1–2 days from 5 date-bred ewes with chronic maternal and fetal vascular catheters. In addition, 6 chronically catheterized ewes were infused with 2 liters of 0.45% NaCl over 30 min. Fetal and maternal blood samples were obtained before and after the infusion period for measurement of plasma osmolality and AVP concentrations. In the first study, maternal and fetal plasma AVP levels correlated significantly (p < 0.01, by linear regression analysis) under basal conditions. In the second study, baseline mean ( ± SEM) plasma osmolality was similar for pregnant ewes and fetuses (303 ± 3.1 and 302 ± 2.4 mosm/kg, respectively). There was a significant (each, p < 0.01 by paired t test) decrease from baseline in maternal and fetal osmolality during the 30 min after completion of the hypotonic saline (to 292 ± 4.7 and 296 ± 2.4 mosm/kg, respectively). Fetal plasma AVP levels decreased 17 ± 6% by 30 min following the completion of water loading (1.7 ± 0.07 to 1.4 ± 0.16 μU/ml; p < 0.05). Maternal plasma AVP levels decreased 16 ± 4% by 30 min after completion of infusion (1.6 ± 0.14 to 1.38 ± 0.6 μU/ml; p < 0.05). These results indicate that maternal and fetal plasma AVP levels correlate under basal conditions and that maternal water loading, which significantly decreases fetal plasma osmolality, significantly suppresses fetal plasma AVP concentrations.

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