Baroreceptor and chemoreceptor reflexes are actively involved in the control of fetal blood pressure and in the maintenance of blood flow to the placenta and to the metabolizing tissues. The present project is an investigation into the mechanism of the baro-and chemoreflexes. In previous funding periods of this project, we discovered and explored the interaction between changes in fetal blood pressure and prostaglandin generation in the fetal brain. We have discovered that COX-2 expression in the brain is controlled in both site- and development- specific patterns, and that blockade of COX-2 decreases the neuroendocrine responsiveness to cerebral hypoperfusion. The expression of COX-2 is not dependent upon cellular hypoxia, but is dependent upon NMDA-glutamatergic neurotransmission. Our most recent data indicate that COX-2 is one component of an inflammatory cascade that is activated by hypoxia and cerebral hypoperfusion, and that the activation of this cascade is associated with upregulation of the apoptosis pathways. Based on these results, we have proposed three specific aims in the renewal of this project: 1) to test the hypothesis that ACTH and Arginine Vasopressin (AVP), but not autonomic nervous system responses to BCO, isocapnic hypoxic hypoxia (HH), and partial umbilical cord occlusion (UCC) are inhibited by NMDA receptor blockade and that the degree of inhibition correlates to cellular activity in brain regions and nuclei subserving sensation and integration of the reflex responses;2) to test the hypothesis that BCO, HH, and UCC all increase inflammatory pathways in the fetal PVN, midbrain nuclei, medullary nuclei, and IML, and that the increase in inflammatory marker expression is in part dependent upon NMDA signaling;and 3) to test the hypothesis that BCO, HH, and UCC all increase apoptosis in various brain regions, and that blockade of NMDA receptors will ameliorate this outcome. In the proposed 5-year continuation of this project, we will use and innovative combination of whole animal, molecular, genomics, and informatics techniques to identify the heretofore unappreciated link between alterations in O2 and CO2, activation of NMDA-glutamatergic neurotransmission, stimulation of brain inflammation, and stimulation of cellular apoptosis and long-term impairment of brain function. The results are likely to demonstrate the importance of NMDA receptor blockade as a neuroprotective strategy in late gestation fetuses and for premature infants in the NICU.

Public Health Relevance

This project examines the possibility that fetal hypoxia, asphyxia, and ischemia all stimulate brain inflammation, apoptosis, and cell death that is dependent on an increase in NMDA- glutamatergic neurotransmission that mediates the physiologic and endocrine reflex responses to the stressors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Pregnancy and Neonatology Study Section (PN)
Program Officer
Ilekis, John V
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University of Florida
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Zarate, Miguel A; Rodriguez, Michelle D; Chang, Eileen I et al. (2017) Post-hypoxia Invasion of the fetal brain by multidrug resistant Staphylococcus. Sci Rep 7:6458
Chang, Eileen I; Zárate, Miguel A; Rabaglino, Maria B et al. (2016) Ketamine decreases inflammatory and immune pathways after transient hypoxia in late gestation fetal cerebral cortex. Physiol Rep 4:
Wood, Charles E; Chang, Eileen I; Richards, Elaine M et al. (2016) Transcriptomics Modeling of the Late-Gestation Fetal Pituitary Response to Transient Hypoxia. PLoS One 11:e0148465
Chang, Eileen I; Zárate, Miguel A; Rabaglino, Maria B et al. (2016) Ketamine suppresses hypoxia-induced inflammatory responses in the late-gestation ovine fetal kidney cortex. J Physiol 594:1295-310
Chang, Eileen I; Wood, Charles E (2015) Ketamine Attenuates the ACTH Response to Hypoxia in Late-Gestation Ovine Fetus. Neonatology 107:249-55
Rabaglino, Maria B; Keller-Wood, Maureen; Wood, Charles E (2014) Transcriptomics of the late gestation ovine fetal brain: modeling the co-expression of immune marker genes. BMC Genomics 15:1001
Wood, Charles E; Rabaglino, Maria Belen; Richards, Elaine et al. (2014) Transcriptomics of the fetal hypothalamic response to brachiocephalic occlusion and estradiol treatment. Physiol Genomics 46:523-32
Wood, Charles E; Rabaglino, Maria Belen; Chang, Eileen I et al. (2013) Genomics of the fetal hypothalamic cellular response to transient hypoxia: endocrine, immune, and metabolic responses. Physiol Genomics 45:521-7
Wood, Charles E; Keller-Wood, Maureen (2011) Influence of estradiol and fetal stress on luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and prolactin in late-gestation fetal sheep. Neonatology 100:155-61
Fraites, Melanie J P; Wood, Charles E (2011) Chemoreflex activity increases prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase mRNA expression in the late-gestation fetal sheep brain. Reprod Sci 18:824-31

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