The uptake and/or release of amino acids across the fetal liver and the placenta were studied in 8 pregnant sheep during the 5 days preceding delivery of the lamb. During spontaneous parturition, there was a significant decrease in fetal hepatic glutamine uptake, in fetal hepatic glutamate release and in placental glutamate uptake. The fetal plasma concentrations of glutamate, leucine, isoleucine, valine, phenylalanine, serine and tyrosine also decreased significantly in the 5 days preceding delivery. There was no significant net output of glucose from the fetal liver nor any change in net lactate uptake by the liver. During this same time period there was a significant increase in the fetal plasma cortisol concentration and a decrease in progesterone output by the pregnant uterus. The results are compared to the previously reported amino acid changes during dexamethasone-induced parturition.

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