Polyamines (putrescine, spermidine, and spermine) are essential for placental growth and angiogenesis. However, little is known about changes in polyamine synthesis associated with development of the ovine conceptus (embryo/fetus and associated placental membranes). We hypothesized that rates of placental polyamine synthesis were maximal during the rapid placental growth that occurs in the first half of pregnancy. This hypothesis was tested using ewes between Days 30 and 140 of gestation. Columbia cross-bred ewes were hysterectomized on Days 30, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, or 140 of gestation (Day 0 = mating; n = 4 ewes/day) to obtain placentomes, intercotyledonary placenta, intercaruncular endometrium, and allantoic as well as amniotic fluids. The tissues were analyzed for ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and arginase activities; arginine, ornithine, and polyamine concentrations; and polyamine synthesis using radiochemical and chromatographic methods. Maximal ODC and arginase activities and the highest rates of polyamine synthesis were observed in all tissues on Day 40 of gestation. Concentrations of ornithine and polyamines in placentomes and intercaruncular endometrium also peaked on Day 40 of gestation. In ovine allantoic and amniotic fluids, polyamines were most abundant during early (Days 40–60) and late (Days 100–140) gestation, respectively. Amniotic fluid spermine increased progressively with advancing gestation. Results of the present study indicate metabolic coordination among the several integrated pathways that support high rates of polyamine synthesis in the placenta and endometrium during early pregnancy. Our findings may have important implications for both intrauterine growth retardation and fetal origins of diseases in adults.
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