Antenatal betamethasone (BM) therapy for women in jeopardy of premature delivery accelerates the lung development in preterm infants and reduces infant mortality rates, but may induce early programming events with chronic cardiovascular consequences. In a sheep model of fetal programming, in utero BM-exposed (BMX) offspring as adults exhibit elevated mean arterial pressure (MAP), decreased baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) for the control of heart rate and insulin resistance accompanied by dysregulation of the brain renin–angiotensin (Ang) system (RAS). However, the status of signaling mechanisms in the brain dorsomedial medulla (DMM) of the BMX sheep that comprise both the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) cellular pathways is unknown. Given the importance of these signaling pathways in the actions of Ang peptides as well as baroreflex function and autonomic integration, we applied both a kinase signaling array and associated individual immunoblots of the dorsomedial brain medulla from adult female and male sheep with antenatal BMX. MAPK and PI3K pathways were altered significantly in the BMX sheep in a sex-dependent manner. A protein array for kinases (PathScan® Intracellular Signaling Array Kit, Cell Signaling) and subsequent verification by immunoblot revealed that within the DMM, female BMX sheep exhibit lower expression of proteins in the PI3K pathway, while male BMX sheep show greater expression of p-MAPK pathway proteins extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2. We conclude that maladaptive changes in these two kinase pathways in the DMM may contribute to the chronic dysregulation of blood pressure in this model of fetal programming.

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