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Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Peter W. Nathanielsz
Program in Physiology

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It is now clear that the signal to the onset of birth is derived in a major part from the fetus. Maturation of the fetal brain appears to coordinate the development of several key fetal organs, such as the adrenal and lung, so that these will be adequately prepared for extra-uterine life. In the Laboratory for Pregnancy and Newborn Research, we are conducting studies in pregnant animals to determine the nature of these vital signals at the molecular, neuroendocrine, and myometrial levels. We are studying the development of the genetic regulation of fetal hypothalamic transmitters and their influence on the fetal pituitary and adrenal. We are investigating the interactions between mother and fetus in the various circadian rhythms that occur during pregnancy. Our major methodologies are neurosurgical, molecular biology, radioimmunoassay, immunocytochemistry and whole animal studies utilizing computer based data acquisition of myometrial contractility patterns. We are also studying the development of fetal behavioral and sleep states by recording fetal electrocorticogram, fetal eye movements, and fetal skeletal muscle activity.


  1. Unno, N., Wong, C.H., Jenkins, S.L., Wentworth, R.A., Ding, X-Y., Li, C., Roberson, S.S., Smotherman, W.P. and Nathanielsz, P.W. (1999) Blood pressure and heart rate in the ovine fetus: Ontogenic changes and effects of fetal adrenalectomy. Am. J. Physiol. 276(1):H248-256.
  2. Anwar, M.A., Schwab, M., Poston, L. and Nathanielsz, P.W. (199)Bethamethasone mediated vascular dysfunction and changes in hematological profile in the ovine fetus. Am. J. Physiol. 276:H1137-1143.
  3. Baguma-Nibasheka, M., Brenna, J.T. and Nathanielsz, P.W. (1999) Delay of preterm delivery in sheep by omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturates. Biol. Reprod. 60:698-701.
  4. Wu, W.X., Ma, X.H., Unno, N. and Nathanielsz, P.W. (1999) Changes in prostacyclin synthase (PGIS) in pregnant sheep myometrium, endometrium, and placenta at spontaneous term labor and regulation by estradiol and pgesteron. Submitted to Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 180:744-749.
  5. Wu, W.X. Zhang, Q., Ma, X.H., Unno, N., and Nathanielsz, P.W. (1999) Suppression subtractive hybridization identified a marked increase in thrombospondin-1 associated with parturition in pregnant sheep myometrium. Endocrinology 140:2364-71.