Taurocholate concentrations in fetal and neonatal rats were determined by radioimmunoassay. Total body taurocholate pool size varied from 0.0049 +/- 0.0008 to 203 +/- 8 nmol/g body weight from day 5 of gestation to 5 d after birth. A 50-fold increase in taurocholate pool size was observed between days 15 and 19 of gestation. The distribution of taurocholate between liver, intestine, and the remainder of the carcass was determined for rats of gestational age 19 d to 5 d after birth. The major fraction of total body taurocholate was in the liver and intestine, with less than 15% in the remainder of the carcass. The ratio of taurocholate in intestine to taurocholate in liver, which was 1:17 at 19 d of gestation, had altered substantially to a ratio of 6:1 by 5 d after birth. Treatment of pregnant rats with 60 microgram/d of dexamethasone from gestational day 9 until sacrifice increased fetal taurocholate pool size by 80% at 15 d, 40% at 19 d, and 16% at 1 d after birth. Administration of dexamethasone to the mother also changed the ratio of taurocholate in intestine to taurocholate in liver. At 19 d of gestation, dexamethasone-treated mothers had fetuses with approximately equal amounts of taurocholate in intestine and liver. This suggested that adrenocorticosteroids stimulate the early maturation of factors controlling taurocholate pool size and tissue distribution in the rat fetus.
J M Little, J E Richey, D H Van Thiel, R Lester