Forty-five Sprague-Dawley rats (60–80 days old) were randomly placed into one of three groups: sedentary pregnant control (PC); prepregnancy trained animals that exercised throughout pregnancy (PR); and nonpregnant trained animals (NPR). Each exercising animal ran at approximately 60–70% aerobic capacity (V̇O2max) for 1 hour/day up to and including day 18 of gestation (term = 21 days). On day 20 of gestation, fetuses were excised from each pregnant animal and scrutinized for gross abnormalities. In 3 randomly chosen fetuses from each litter, brain, heart, kidney, hind limb, and placental tissues were removed to assess the accumulation of the inducible isoform of the 70-kilodalton heat shock protein (Hsp 72i). No significant differences were detected between fetal hearts, hind limbs, or placental tissues of PC or PR groups. No Hsp 72i signal could be detected in fetal kidney or brain tissues from either pregnant group. Results indicate that maternal core temperature did not reach the threshold that would induce either gross fetal abnormalities or a fetal heat shock protein response. However, fetal and placental growth was reduced by the exercise protocol.
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