Elevated maternal androgen levels during pregnancy programs development of increased blood pressure and vascular, reproductive, and endocrine dysfunction in offspring in adult life. Whether this programming effect is exerted directly on the embryo and fetus, or indirectly via effects on the mother, is unknown. Based on our preliminary data that testosterone does not cross placenta and the observation of vascular and placental defects in pregnant rats with elevated T, we hypothesize that elevated maternal T impairs cardiovascular (CV) adaptations and placental function to compromise the development of the fetus, thereby leading to the development of adult diseases. Thus, the focus of this proposal is to investigate the mechanisms of androgen- induced maternal CV and placental dysfunctions.
Two specific aims are proposed.
Specific Aim 1 : Characterize the influence of elevated T on maternal CV function. Question 1a: Does elevated T alter blood pressure (BP) in the mothers? We hypothesize that elevated T will increase mean arterial pressure in dams. Question 1b: Does elevated T alter vascular endothelial function in mothers? We hypothesize that nitric oxide (NO) production, eNOS expression, and endothelium-dependent vasodilator function in arteries of mesenteric and uterine vasculature is affected in mothers with elevated T. Question 1c: Is vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cell function altered in T dams? We hypothesize that VSM contractile response is increased in mesenteric and uterine vasculature of T dams.
Specific Aim 2 : Investigate the influence of elevated T on placental function. Question 2a: Does elevated maternal T cause placental dysfunction? We hypothesize that in T-treated mothers, the placental weight, especially labyrinth zone, size will be reduced with decreases in proangiogenic and increases in antiangiogenic factors. Question 2b: Does elevated maternal T alter placental nutrient transport capacity? We hypothesize that T will decrease the expression and activity of transporters, leading to decreased transfer of amino acids and glucose across the placenta to the fetus. These studies are of significance, especially in the view of higher androgen levels reported in several obstetric pathological conditions that may lead to intrauterine growth restriction, such as preeclampsia, maternal PCOS, obesity, stress, and smoking. In addition, pregnant African-American mothers have higher serum T levels and a greater frequency of low-birth-weight babies. Moreover, the highest rates of maternal and adult CV dysfunction are also concentrated in these populations. Our rat model presents an opportunity to investigate the adverse effects of elevated maternal androgens, which may aid in improving maternal and fetal health.

Public Health Relevance

Programming of adult health and disease appears to be dependent upon fetal exposure to various in utero environmental factors. Pilot data from our group have highlighted that exposure in utero to elevated androgens causes low birth weight and adult hypertension and further suggest that cardiovascular dysfunction and placental insufficiency may underlie these effects. This proposal will yield important insights that could aid in the development of effective diagnostic tools and interventions to prevent or decrease maternal cardiovascular risk and associated effects on low birth weight and adverse health consequences in adult life.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Research Grants (R03)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
Program Officer
Ilekis, John V
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Texas Medical Br Galveston
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Blesson, Chellakkan S; Chinnathambi, Vijayakumar; Kumar, Sathish et al. (2017) Gestational Protein Restriction Impairs Glucose Disposal in the Gastrocnemius Muscles of Female Rats. Endocrinology 158:756-767
Blesson, Chellakkan S; Chinnathambi, Vijayakumar; Hankins, Gary D et al. (2015) Prenatal testosterone exposure induces hypertension in adult females via androgen receptor-dependent protein kinase C?-mediated mechanism. Hypertension 65:683-690
More, Amar S; Mishra, Jay S; Hankins, Gary D V et al. (2015) Enalapril Normalizes Endothelium-Derived Hyperpolarizing Factor-Mediated Relaxation in Mesenteric Artery of Adult Hypertensive Rats Prenatally Exposed to Testosterone. Biol Reprod 92:155
Chinnathambi, Vijayakumar; More, Amar S; Hankins, Gary D et al. (2014) Gestational exposure to elevated testosterone levels induces hypertension via heightened vascular angiotensin II type 1 receptor signaling in rats. Biol Reprod 91:6
Chinnathambi, Vijayakumar; Blesson, Chellakkan S; Vincent, Kathleen L et al. (2014) Elevated testosterone levels during rat pregnancy cause hypersensitivity to angiotensin II and attenuation of endothelium-dependent vasodilation in uterine arteries. Hypertension 64:405-14
Blesson, Chellakkan S; Sathishkumar, Kunju; Chinnathambi, Vijayakumar et al. (2014) Gestational protein restriction impairs insulin-regulated glucose transport mechanisms in gastrocnemius muscles of adult male offspring. Endocrinology 155:3036-46
Chinnathambi, Vijayakumar; Yallampalli, Chandrasekhar; Sathishkumar, Kunju (2013) Prenatal testosterone induces sex-specific dysfunction in endothelium-dependent relaxation pathways in adult male and female rats. Biol Reprod 89:97
Chinnathambi, Vijayakumar; Balakrishnan, Meena; Ramadoss, Jayanth et al. (2013) Testosterone alters maternal vascular adaptations: role of the endothelial NO system. Hypertension 61:647-54
Sathishkumar, K; Balakrishnan, M; Chinnathambi, V et al. (2012) Fetal sex-related dysregulation in testosterone production and their receptor expression in the human placenta with preeclampsia. J Perinatol 32:328-35
Chinnathambi, Vijayakumar; Balakrishnan, Meena; Yallampalli, Chandrasekhar et al. (2012) Prenatal testosterone exposure leads to hypertension that is gonadal hormone-dependent in adult rat male and female offspring. Biol Reprod 86:137, 1-7

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications