Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) following prenatal hypoxia exposure leads to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in later life. Our aim was to evaluate cardiac susceptibility and its pathophysiological mechanisms following acute myocardial infarction (MI) in adult rat offspring exposed to prenatal hypoxia. Male and female rat offspring, which experienced normoxia (21% O2) or hypoxia (11% O2) in utero underwent sham or MI surgery at 12 weeks of age. Echocardiographic data revealed that both sexes had systolic dysfunction following MI surgery, independent of prenatal hypoxia. Male offspring exposed to prenatal hypoxia, however, had left ventricular dilatation, global dysfunction, and signs of diastolic dysfunction following MI surgery as evident by increased left ventricular internal diameter (LVID) during diastole (MI effect, P<0.01), Tei index (MI effect, P<0.001), and E/E′ ratio (prenatal hypoxia or MI effect, P<0.01). In contrast, diastolic dysfunction in female offspring was not as evident. Cardiac superoxide levels increased only in prenatal hypoxia exposed male offspring. Cardiac sarcoendoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase2a (SERCA2a) levels, a marker of cardiac injury and dysfunction, decreased in both male and female MI groups independent of prenatal hypoxia. Prenatal hypoxia increased cardiac ryanodine receptor 2 (RYR2) protein levels, while MI reduced RYR2 in only male offspring. In conclusion, male offspring exposed to prenatal hypoxia had an increased susceptibility to ischemic myocardial injury involving cardiac phenotypes similar to heart failure involving diastolic dysfunction in adult life compared with both offspring from healthy pregnancies and their female counterparts.

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