Maternal selenium supplementation and timing of nutrient restriction in pregnant sheep: Effects on maternal endocrine status and placental characteristics

L. A. Lekatz, J. S. Caton, J. B. Taylor, L. P. Reynolds, D. A. Redmer, K. A. Vonnahme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


To determine the effects of maternal Se intake and plane of nutrition during midgestation, late gestation, or both on hormone and metabolite concentrations in the dam and on placental characteristics, pregnant ewe lambs (n = 64) were assigned to 1 of 8 treatments arranged in a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial array: Se level [initiated at breeding; adequate (3.05 μg/kg of BW) or high (70.4 μg/kg of BW)] and nutritional level [100% (control) or 60% (restricted) of NRC recommendations] fed at different times of gestation [d 50 to 90 (midgestation) or d 91 to 130 (late gestation)]. The control ewes had a greater (P = 0.01) percentage change in BW from d 50 than restricted ewes during both mid-and late gestation. Although blood urea N was not affected by either Se or nutritional level, restricted ewes had greater (P = 0.01) concentrations of circulating Se on d 66, 78, 106, 120, and 130 of gestation compared with control ewes. Both Se and timing of the nutritional level affected circulating progesterone; however, only nutritional level affected thyroxine and triiodothyronine concentrations in the dam. Nutrient restriction during late gestation decreased (P ≤ 0.01) fetal BW and fetal fluid weight compared with the control ewes (3.75 vs. 4.13 ± 0.10 kg and 1.61 vs. 2.11 ± 0.11 kg). Although neither Se nor nutritional level affected (P ≥ 0.1) placental, caruncular, or cotyledonary weights, cotyledonary cellular proliferation was decreased (P < 0.05) in ewes receiving a high concentration of Se compared with those receiving adequate Se. In addition, either Se or nutritional level affected vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGFA), VEGFA-receptor 1, VEGFA-receptor 2, and NO synthase mRNA abundance in the cotyledonary tissue. In the caruncular tissue, either Se or nutritional level affected VEGFA-receptor 1, placental growth factor, and NO synthase mRNA abundance. Selenium supplementation and the duration or timing of nutrient restriction appear to influence the endocrine and metabolic status of the ewe, which may influence nutrient transport and placental function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)955-971
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiogenic factor
  • Maternal nutrition
  • Placenta
  • Selenium
  • Sheep


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