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Atypical Chemokine Receptor ACKR2 Mediates Chemokine Scavenging by Primary Human Trophoblasts and Can Regulate Fetal Growth, Placental Structure, and Neonatal Mortality in Mice.
J. Immunol.
PUBLISHED: 10-08-2014
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Inflammatory chemokines produced in the placenta can direct the migration of placental leukocytes using chemokine receptors that decorate the surface of these cells. Fetal trophoblasts can also express receptors for inflammatory chemokines, and they are one of the few cell types that express atypical chemokine receptor 2 (ACKR2), previously known as D6. ACKR2 binds many inflammatory CC chemokines but cannot stimulate cell migration or activate signaling pathways used by conventional chemokine receptors. Existing evidence suggests that ACKR2 is a specialized chemokine scavenger, but its function in primary human trophoblasts has not been explored. In mice, ACKR2 is thought to be dispensable for the reproductive success of unchallenged females that have conceived naturally, but it can suppress inflammation-induced abortion and aid the survival of implanted allogeneic embryos. In this article, we demonstrate that cultured primary human trophoblasts express ACKR2 far more strongly than genes encoding conventional receptors for inflammatory CC chemokines. Moreover, these cells are capable of the rapid internalization and efficient scavenging of extracellular chemokine, and this is mediated by ACKR2. We also report that in unchallenged DBA/1j mice, Ackr2 deficiency increases the incidence of stillbirth and neonatal death, leads to structural defects in the placenta, and can decrease fetal weight. Loss of Ackr2 specifically from fetal cells makes a key contribution to the placental defects. Thus, primary human trophoblasts use ACKR2 to scavenge chemokines, and ACKR2 deficiency can cause abnormal placental structure and reduced neonatal survival.
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Differential activation of placental unfolded protein response pathways implies heterogeneity in causation of early- and late-onset pre-eclampsia.
J. Pathol.
PUBLISHED: 05-22-2014
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Based on gestational age at diagnosis and/or delivery, pre-eclampsia (PE) is commonly divided into early-onset (<34 weeks) and late-onset (?34 weeks) forms. Recently, the distinction between 'placental' and 'maternal' causation has been proposed, with 'placental' cases being more frequently associated with early-onset and intrauterine growth restriction. To test whether molecular placental pathology varies according to clinical presentation, we investigated stress-signalling pathways, including unfolded protein response (UPR) pathways, MAPK stress pathways, heat-shock proteins and AMPK? in placentae delivered by caesarean section for clinical indications at different gestational ages. Controls included second-trimester, pre-term and normal-term placentae. BeWo cells were used to investigate how these pathways react to different severities of hypoxia-reoxygenation (H/R) and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Activation of placental UPR and stress-response pathways, including P-IRE1?, ATF6, XBP-1, GRP78 and GRP94, P-p38/p38 and HSP70, was higher in early-onset PE than in both late-onset PE and normotensive controls (NTCs), with a clear inflection around 34 weeks. Placentae from ? 34 weeks PE and NTC were indistinguishable. Levels of UPR signalling were similar between second-trimester and term controls, but were significantly higher in pre-term 'controls' delivered vaginally for chorioamnionitis and other conditions. Severe H/R (1/20% O2 ) induced equivalent activation of UPR pathways, including P-eIF2?, ATF6, P-IRE1?, GRP78 and GRP94, in BeWo cells. By contrast, the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF? and IL-1? induced only mild activation of P-eIF2? and GRP78. AKT, a central regulator of cell proliferation, was reduced in the < 34 weeks PE placentae and severe H/R-treated cells, but not in other conditions. These findings provide the first molecular evidence that placental stress may contribute to the pathophysiology of early-onset pre-eclampsia, whereas that is unlikely to be the case in the late-onset form of the syndrome.
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Biologically active polymers from spontaneous carotenoid oxidation: a new frontier in carotenoid activity.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2014
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In animals carotenoids show biological activity unrelated to vitamin A that has been considered to arise directly from the behavior of the parent compound, particularly as an antioxidant. However, the very property that confers antioxidant activity on some carotenoids in plants also confers susceptibility to oxidative transformation. As an alternative, it has been suggested that carotenoid oxidative breakdown or metabolic products could be the actual agents of activity in animals. However, an important and neglected aspect of the behavior of the highly unsaturated carotenoids is their potential to undergo addition of oxygen to form copolymers. Recently we reported that spontaneous oxidation of ß-carotene transforms it into a product dominated by ß-carotene-oxygen copolymers. We now report that the polymeric product is biologically active. Results suggest an overall ability to prime innate immune function to more rapidly respond to subsequent microbial challenges. An underlying structural resemblance to sporopollenin, found in the outer shell of spores and pollen, may allow the polymer to modulate innate immune responses through interactions with the pattern recognition receptor system. Oxygen copolymer formation appears common to all carotenoids, is anticipated to be widespread, and the products may contribute to the health benefits of carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables.
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An obesogenic diet during mouse pregnancy modifies maternal nutrient partitioning and the fetal growth trajectory.
FASEB J.
PUBLISHED: 06-27-2013
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In developed societies, high-sugar and high-fat (HSHF) diets are now the norm and are increasing the rates of maternal obesity during pregnancy. In pregnant rodents, these diets lead to cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunction in their adult offspring, but the intrauterine mechanisms involved remain unknown. This study shows that, relative to standard chow, HSHF feeding throughout mouse pregnancy increases maternal adiposity (+30%, P<0.05) and reduces fetoplacental growth at d 16 (-10%, P<0.001). At d 19, however, HSHF diet group pup weight had normalized, despite the HSHF diet group placenta remaining small and morphologically compromised. This altered fetal growth trajectory was associated with enhanced placental glucose and amino acid transfer (+35%, P<0.001) and expression of their transporters (+40%, P<0.024). HSHF feeding also up-regulated placental expression of fatty acid transporter protein, metabolic signaling pathways (phosphoinositol 3-kinase and mitogen-activated protein kinase), and several growth regulatory imprinted genes (Igf2, Dlk1, Snrpn, Grb10, and H19) independently of changes in DNA methylation. Obesogenic diets during pregnancy, therefore, alter maternal nutrient partitioning, partly through changes in the placental phenotype, which helps to meet fetal nutrient demands for growth near term. However, by altering provision of specific nutrients, dietary-induced placental adaptations have important roles in programming development with health implications for the offspring in later life.
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The role of apoptosis on trophoblast cell invasion in the placental bed of normotensive and preeclamptic pregnancies.
Hypertens Pregnancy
PUBLISHED: 06-19-2013
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Placental development depends on careful coordination of trophoblast proliferation and apoptosis; however, the synchrony of its effect on trophoblast invasion is unknown.
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Human embryonic growth trajectories and associations with fetal growth and birthweight.
Hum. Reprod.
PUBLISHED: 04-07-2013
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How do human embryonic growth trajectories evolve in the first trimester, and is first-trimester embryonic growth associated with fetal growth and birthweight (BW)?
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Syncytial knots (Tenney-Parker changes) in the human placenta: evidence of loss of transcriptional activity and oxidative damage.
Am. J. Pathol.
PUBLISHED: 03-01-2013
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Syncytiotrophoblast is the multinucleated epithelium of the placenta. Although many nuclei are dispersed within the syncytioplasm, others are aggregated into specializations referred to as true and false syncytial knots, and syncytial sprouts. Nuclei within true knots display highly condensed chromatin and are thought to be aged and effete. True knots increase in frequency with gestational age. Excessive formation (Tenney-Parker change) is associated with placental pathology, and a knotting index is used to assess severity. However, this index is potentially confounded by the creation of artifactual appearances (false knots) through tangential sectioning. In addition, knots must be distinguished from syncytial sprouts, which are markers of trophoblast proliferation. Here, we distinguish between sprouts, true knots, and false knots using serial sections and perform IHC for proliferating cell nuclear antigen, upstream binding factor, RNA polymerase II, and 8-oxo-deoxyguanosine as markers of recent incorporation, transcriptional activity, and oxidative damage. Villous explants were exposed to hydrogen peroxide to test the relationship between transcriptional activity and oxidative damage. Sprouts and false knots were found to contain recently incorporated and transcriptionally active nuclei. By contrast, most nuclei within true knots are negative for transcriptional markers but positive for 8-oxo-deoxyguanosine. In vitro, we observed a negative correlation between transcriptional activity and oxidative damage. These findings demonstrate that true knots contain effete damaged nuclei and provide IHC markers for their identification.
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Suppression of mitochondrial electron transport chain function in the hypoxic human placenta: a role for miRNA-210 and protein synthesis inhibition.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-30-2013
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Fetal growth is critically dependent on energy metabolism in the placenta, which drives active exchange of nutrients. Placental oxygen levels are therefore vital, and chronic hypoxia during pregnancy impairs fetal growth. Here we tested the hypothesis that placental hypoxia alters mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETS) function, and sought to identify underlying mechanisms. We cultured human placental cells under different oxygen concentrations. Mitochondrial respiration was measured, alongside levels of ETS complexes. Additionally, we studied placentas from sea-level and high-altitude pregnancies. After 4 d at 1% O? (1.01 KPa), complex I-supported respiration was 57% and 37% lower, in trophoblast-like JEG3 cells and fibroblasts, respectively, compared with controls cultured at 21% O? (21.24 KPa); complex IV-supported respiration was 22% and 30% lower. Correspondingly, complex I levels were 45% lower in placentas from high-altitude pregnancies than those from sea-level pregnancies. Expression of HIF-responsive microRNA-210 was increased in hypoxic fibroblasts and high-altitude placentas, whilst expression of its targets, iron-sulfur cluster scaffold (ISCU) and cytochrome c oxidase assembly protein (COX10), decreased. Moreover, protein synthesis inhibition, a feature of the high-altitude placenta, also suppressed ETS complex protein levels. Our results demonstrate that mitochondrial function is altered in hypoxic human placentas, with specific suppression of complexes I and IV compromising energy metabolism and potentially contributing to impaired fetal growth.
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Reduced cystathionine ?-lyase and increased miR-21 expression are associated with increased vascular resistance in growth-restricted pregnancies: hydrogen sulfide as a placental vasodilator.
Am. J. Pathol.
PUBLISHED: 01-03-2013
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Increased vascular impedance in the fetoplacental circulation is associated with fetal hypoxia and growth restriction. We sought to investigate the role of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in regulating vasomotor tone in the fetoplacental vasculature. H2S is produced endogenously by catalytic activity of cystathionine ?-synthase and cystathionine ?-lyase (CSE). Immunohistochemical analysis localized CSE to smooth muscle cells encircling arteries in stem villi. Immunoreactivity was reduced in placentas from pregnancies with severe early-onset growth-restriction and preeclampsia displaying abnormal umbilical artery Doppler waveforms compared with preeclamptic placentas with normal waveforms and controls. These findings were confirmed at the protein and mRNA levels. MicroRNA-21, which negatively regulates CSE expression, was increased in placentas with abnormal Doppler waveforms. Exposure of villus explants to hypoxia-reoxygenation significantly reduced CSE protein and mRNA and increased microRNA-21 expression. No changes were observed in cystathionine ?-synthase expression, immunolocalized principally to the trophoblast, in pathologic placentas or in vitro. Finally, perfusion of normal placentas with an H2S donor, after preconstriction with a thromboxane mimetic, resulted in dose-dependent vasorelaxation. Glibenclamide and N(G)-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester partially blocked the effect, indicating that H2S acts through ATP-sensitive K(+) channels and nitric oxide synthesis. These results demonstrate that H2S is a powerful vasodilator of the placental vasculature and that expression of CSE is reduced in placentas associated with increased vascular resistance.
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Endoplasmic reticulum stress in the pathogenesis of early-onset pre-eclampsia.
Pregnancy Hypertens
PUBLISHED: 06-28-2011
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Recent data have provided molecular evidence of high levels of endoplasmic reticulum stress in non-laboured placentas from cases of early-onset pre-eclampsia. Endoplasmic reticulum stress is intricately linked to oxidative stress, and the two often share the same aetiology. In the case of pre-eclampsia this is likely to be placental malperfusion, secondary to deficient conversion of the spiral arteries. Endoplasmic reticulum stress activates a number of signalling pathways aimed at restoring homeostasis, but if these attempts fail then the apoptotic machinery may be activated. The potential consequences for placental development and function are numerous and diverse. Inhibition of protein synthesis results in lower levels of many kinases, growth factors and regulatory proteins involved in cell cycle control, and experiments in vitro reveal that endoplasmic reticulum stress slows cell proliferation. Chronic, low levels of stress during the second and third trimesters may therefore result in a growth restricted phenotype. Higher levels of endoplasmic reticulum stress lead to activation of pro-inflammatory pathways, a feature of pre-eclampsia that may contribute to maternal endothelial cell activation. These findings emphasise the complexity of cellular responses to stress, and the need to approach these in a holistic fashion when considering therapeutic interventions.
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Regulation of AKT phosphorylation at Ser473 and Thr308 by endoplasmic reticulum stress modulates substrate specificity in a severity dependent manner.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 02-14-2011
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Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is a common factor in the pathophysiology of diverse human diseases that are characterised by contrasting cellular behaviours, from proliferation in cancer to apoptosis in neurodegenerative disorders. Coincidently, dysregulation of AKT/PKB activity, which is the central regulator of cell growth, proliferation and survival, is often associated with the same diseases. Here, we demonstrate that ER stress modulates AKT substrate specificity in a severity-dependent manner, as shown by phospho-specific antibodies against known AKT targets. ER stress also reduces both total and phosphorylated AKT in a severity-dependent manner, without affecting activity of the upstream kinase PDK1. Normalisation to total AKT revealed that under ER stress phosphorylation of Thr308 is suppressed while that of Ser473 is increased. ER stress induces GRP78, and siRNA-mediated knock-down of GRP78 enhances phosphorylation at Ser473 by 3.6 fold, but not at Thr308. Substrate specificity is again altered. An in-situ proximity ligation assay revealed a physical interaction between GRP78 and AKT at the plasma membrane of cells following induction of ER stress. Staining was weak in cells with normal nuclear morphology but stronger in those displaying rounded, condensed nuclei. Co-immunoprecipitation of GRP78 and P-AKT(Ser473) confirmed the immuno-complex consists of non-phosphorylated AKT (Ser473 and Thr308). The interaction is likely specific as AKT did not bind to all molecular chaperones, and GRP78 did not bind to p70 S6 kinase. These findings provide one mechanistic explanation for how ER stress contributes to human pathologies demonstrating contrasting cell fates via modulation of AKT signalling.
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Developmental adaptations to increased fetal nutrient demand in mouse genetic models of Igf2-mediated overgrowth.
FASEB J.
PUBLISHED: 01-31-2011
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The healthy development of the fetus depends on an optimal balance between fetal genetic drive for growth and the maternal ability to provide nutrients through the placenta. Nothing is known about fetal-placental signaling in response to increased fetal demand in the situation of overgrowth. Here, we examined this question using the H19(?13) mouse model, shown previously to result in elevated levels of Igf2. Fetal and placental weights in H19(?13) were increased by 23% and 45%, respectively, at E19, when compared with wild-type mice. Unexpectedly, we found that disproportionately large H19(?13) placentas transport 20-35% less (per gram placenta) glucose and system A amino acids and have similar reductions in passive permeability, despite a significantly greater surface area for nutrient exchange and theoretical diffusion capacity compared with wild-type mice. Expression of key transporter genes Slc2a3 and Slc38a4 was reduced by ?20%. Decreasing the overgrowth of the H19(?13) placenta by genetically reducing levels of Igf2P0 resulted in up-regulation of system A activity and maintenance of fetal overgrowth. Our results provide direct evidence that large placentas can modify their nutrient transfer capacity to regulate fetal nutrient acquisition. Our findings are indicative of fetal-placental signaling mechanisms that limit total demand for maternal nutrients.
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A technical note to improve the reporting of studies of the human placenta.
Placenta
PUBLISHED: 01-15-2011
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Human placentas studied after normal and abnormal pregnancies require author attention to a number of variables derived from clinical chart review. We herein provide a Table listing many of the key variables that might be confounders for clinical studies of the human placenta. As Editors for Placenta, we respectfully request our authors to cite this Technical Note in Methods of submitted papers and include the Table provided herein, and as a download in Instructions for authors, in Supplementary material for any manuscript submission related to the human placenta. This request is optional for authors and is part of an experiment we will trial for the next three years, with the goal of improving the science reported in Placenta.
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Hepcidin and iron species distribution inside the first-trimester human gestational sac.
Mol. Hum. Reprod.
PUBLISHED: 12-22-2010
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We have investigated factors affecting iron distribution in the first-trimester gestational sac, by the measurement of transferrin, non-transferrin-bound iron (NTBI) and pro-hepcidin (Hep) in maternal serum, coelomic fluid (CF) and amniotic fluid (AF) and by immunostaining for Hep in villous and secondary yolk sac biopsies. These samples were obtained from 15 first-trimester pregnancies at 8-11 weeks gestation. Transferrin concentrations were significantly lower in fetal (0.56 mg/ml) than maternal serum (1.71 mg/ml), with very low concentrations in CF and AF (0.09 mg/ml). In contrast, transferrin saturations were significantly higher in fetal (77%) than maternal serum (33%). NTBI was present in fetal serum, CF and AF, presumably as a consequence of low transferrin concentrations in these compartments. Pro-Hep was present at lower levels in fetal (140.0 ± 11.1) than maternal serum (206.2 ± 9.2) and at low concentrations in CF (19.4 ± 3.1) and AF (21.8 ± 5.2). Immunostaining with Hep antibody was found in the syncytiotrophoblast of first-trimester placenta as well as in mesothelial and endodermal layers of the secondary yolk sac at 10 weeks. The presence of Hep in syncytiotrophoblast cells of first-trimester placenta as well as in mesothelial and endodermal layers of the secondary yolk sac suggest a key regulatory role for this protein in iron transfer to the first-trimester fetus. The low transferrin concentrations and the presence of NTBI in CF and AF suggest that transferrin-independent iron transfer is important in early gestation.
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Soluble FLT1 sensitizes endothelial cells to inflammatory cytokines by antagonizing VEGF receptor-mediated signalling.
Cardiovasc. Res.
PUBLISHED: 12-07-2010
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Pre-eclampsia affects 5-7% of pregnancies, and is a major cause of maternal and foetal death. Elevated serum levels of placentally derived splice variants of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFLT1), are strongly implicated in the pathogenesis but, as yet, no underlying mechanism has been described. An excessive inflammatory-like response is thought to contribute to the maternal endothelial cell dysfunction that characterizes pre-eclampsia. We hypothesized that sFLT1 antagonizes autocrine VEGF-A signalling, rendering endothelial cells more sensitive to pro-inflammatory factors also released by the placenta. We tested this by manipulating VEGF receptor signalling and treating endothelial cells with low doses of tumour necrosis factor-? (TNF-?).
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Obstetric outcome after early placental complications.
Curr. Opin. Obstet. Gynecol.
PUBLISHED: 10-09-2010
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To evaluate the impact of early pregnancy complications involving placentation and early placental development on adverse obstetric outcome in ongoing and subsequent pregnancies.
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Oxidative stress.
Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol
PUBLISHED: 08-24-2010
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Considerable evidence implicates oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of many complications of human pregnancy, and this topic has now become a major focus of both clinical and basic science research. Oxidative stress arises when the production of reactive oxygen species overwhelms the intrinsic anti-oxidant defences. Reactive oxygen species play important roles as second messengers in many intracellular signalling cascades aimed at maintaining the cell in homeostasis with its immediate environment. At higher levels, they can cause indiscriminate damage to biological molecules, leading to loss of function and even cell death. In this chapter, we will review how reactive oxygen species are generated and detoxified in the human placenta, and what roles they may play at homeostatic concentrations. We will then consider their involvement in normal placental development, and in complications ranging from miscarriage to pre-eclampsia and premature rupture of the membranes.
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Allopurinol reduces oxidative stress in the ovine fetal cardiovascular system after repeated episodes of ischemia-reperfusion.
Pediatr. Res.
PUBLISHED: 07-09-2010
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In complicated labor, neonatal outcome may depend not only on the extent of fetal asphyxia and acidosis but also on the effects on the fetal cardiovascular system of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated during the ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) associated with repeated compressions of the umbilical cord. This study tested the hypothesis that maternal treatment with clinical doses of the antioxidant allopurinol in the setting of fetal asphyxia would reduce oxidative stress in the fetal cardiovascular system. The hypothesis was tested in chronically instrumented fetal sheep in late gestation by investigating the effects of maternal treatment with therapeutic doses of allopurinol or vehicle on the fetal cardiovascular system during and after episodes of I/R. The latter were produced by repeated, measured compressions of the umbilical cord. The data show that maternal treatment with allopurinol helped maintain umbilical blood flow and it reduced fetal cardiac oxidative stress after I/R of the type associated with clinically relevant acidemia and repetitive fetal heart rate decelerations. The data support the hypothesis tested and suggest that maternal treatment with allopurinol may offer plausible clinical intervention in the management of perinatal asphyxia in complicated labor.
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ELF5-enforced transcriptional networks define an epigenetically regulated trophoblast stem cell compartment in the human placenta.
Hum. Mol. Genet.
PUBLISHED: 03-30-2010
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The first definitive cell fate decision in development occurs at the blastocyst stage with establishment of the trophoblast and embryonic cell lineages. In the mouse, lineage commitment is achieved by epigenetic regulation of a critical gatekeeper gene, the transcription factor Elf5, that reinforces placental cell fate and is necessary for trophoblast stem (TS) cell self-renewal. In humans, however, the epigenetic lineage boundary seems to be less stringent since human embryonic stem (ES) cells, unlike their murine counterparts, harbour some potential to differentiate into trophoblast derivatives. Here, we show that ELF5 is expressed in the human placenta in villous cytotrophoblast cells but not in post-mitotic syncytiotrophoblast and invasive extravillous cytotrophoblast cells. ELF5 establishes a circuit of mutually interacting transcription factors with CDX2 and EOMES, and the highly proliferative ELF5(+)/CDX2(+) double-positive subset of cytotrophoblast cells demarcates a putative TS cell compartment in the early human placenta. In contrast to placental trophoblast, however, ELF5 is hypermethylated and largely repressed in human ES cells and derived trophoblast cell lines, as well as in induced pluripotent stem cells and murine epiblast stem cells. Thus, these cells exhibit an embryonic lineage-specific epigenetic signature and do not undergo an epigenetic reprogramming to reflect the trophoblast lineage at key loci such as ELF5. Our identification of the trophoblast-specific transcriptional circuit established by ELF5 will be instrumental to derive human TS cell lines that truly reflect early placental trophoblast and that will be most beneficial to gain insights into the aetiology of common pregnancy complications, including intra-uterine growth restriction and pre-eclampsia.
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Concentrations of free vascular endothelial growth factor in the maternal and foetal circulations during pregnancy: a cross-sectional study.
J. Matern. Fetal. Neonatal. Med.
PUBLISHED: 01-05-2010
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To investigate the concentrations of free plasma vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the maternal and foetal circulations of normal term pregnancies.
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Human placental metabolic adaptation to chronic hypoxia, high altitude: hypoxic preconditioning.
Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol.
PUBLISHED: 10-28-2009
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We have previously demonstrated placentas from laboring deliveries at high altitude have lower binding of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF) to DNA than those from low altitude. It has recently been reported that labor causes oxidative stress in placentas, likely due to ischemic hypoxic insult. We hypothesized that placentas of high-altitude residents acquired resistance, in the course of their development, to oxidative stress during labor. Full-thickness placental tissue biopsies were collected from laboring vaginal and nonlaboring cesarean-section term (37-41 wk) deliveries from healthy pregnancies at sea level and at 3,100 m. After freezing in liquid nitrogen within 5 min of delivery, we quantified hydrophilic and lipid metabolites using (31)P and (1)H NMR metabolomics. Metabolic markers of oxidative stress, increased glycolysis, and free amino acids were present in placentas following labor at sea level, but not at 3,100 m. In contrast, at 3,100 m, the placentas were characterized by the presence of concentrations of stored energy potential (phosphocreatine), antioxidants, and low free amino acid concentrations. Placentas from pregnancies at sea level subjected to labor display evidence of oxidative stress. However, laboring placentas at 3,100 m have little or no oxidative stress at the time of delivery, suggesting greater resistance to ischemia-reperfusion. We postulate that hypoxic preconditioning might occur in placentas that develop at high altitude.
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Placental structure in type 1 diabetes: relation to fetal insulin, leptin, and IGF-I.
Diabetes
PUBLISHED: 08-18-2009
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Alteration of placental structure may influence fetal overgrowth and complications of maternal diabetes. We examined the placenta in a cohort of offspring of mothers with type 1 diabetes (OT1DM) to assess structural changes and determine whether these were related to maternal A1C, fetal hematocrit, fetal hormonal, or metabolic axes.
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Syncytial knots, sprouts, apoptosis, and trophoblast deportation from the human placenta.
Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol
PUBLISHED: 04-07-2009
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The syncytiotrophoblast (STB) that forms the epithelial covering of the placental villous tree has a unique cell biology on account of its syncytial nature. The tissue is in a terminally-differentiated, postmitotic state, and expands through the recruitment by fusion of underlying progenitor cytotrophoblast cells. This process occurs from the time of implantation until term, and so its nuclei will be of various ages, producing a spectrum of contrasting appearances; whilst some are euchromatic, others display dense condensations of heterochromatin, the latter often aggregating to form clusters referred to as syncytial knots. These appearances have led to the suggestion that knots are apoptotic, and a hypothesis has developed that the nuclei are transcriptionally inactive and transit through the STB before being shed into the maternal circulation. Here, we review the evidence for this hypothesis, looking at the morphology of the nuclei, their number throughout gestation, evidence of transcriptional activity, and trophoblast deportation. We conclude that there is little evidence to support the concept that turnover of syncytial nuclei takes place in the normal placenta, or that this occurs through an apoptotic-related process. Instead, we suggest that a proportion of syncytial nuclei are transcriptionally active, that epigenetic modifications underlie the changes in chromatin appearance, and that syncytial nuclei continue to accumulate until term. We recognize that apoptotic changes can occur in pathologic pregnancies, but consider the deportation of trophoblast that has been linked to preeclampsia to be most likely of necrotic origin following ischemic injury.
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Oxygen, the Janus gas; its effects on human placental development and function.
J. Anat.
PUBLISHED: 01-30-2009
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The accumulation of oxygen in the earths atmosphere enabled metabolic pathways based on high-energy electron transfers that were capable of sustaining complex multicellular organisms to evolve. This advance came at a price, however, for the high reactivity of oxygen posed a major challenge as biological molecules became susceptible to oxidative damage, resulting in potential loss of function. Many extant physiological systems are therefore adapted, and homeostatically regulated, to supply sufficient oxygen to meet energy demands whilst also protecting cells, and mitochondria in particular, from excessive concentrations that could lead to oxidative damage. The invasive form of implantation displayed by the human conceptus presents particular challenges in this respect. During the first trimester, the conceptus develops in a low oxygen environment that favours organogenesis in the embryo, and cell proliferation and angiogenesis in the placenta. Later in pregnancy, higher oxygen concentrations are required to support the rapid growth of the fetus. This transition, which appears unique to the human placenta, must be negotiated safely for a successful pregnancy. Normally, onset of the maternal placental circulation is a progressive periphery-centre phenomenon, and is associated with extensive villous regression to form the chorion laeve. In cases of miscarriage, onset of the circulation is both precocious and disorganized, and excessive placental oxidative stress and villous regression undoubtedly contribute to loss of the pregnancy. Comparison of experimental and in vivo data indicates that fluctuations in placental oxygen concentration are a more powerful stimulus for the generation of oxidative stress than chronic hypoxia alone. Placental oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress appear to play key roles in the pathophysiology of complications of pregnancy, such as intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia, through their adverse impacts on placental function and growth. Establishing an inviolable maternal blood supply for the second and third trimesters is therefore one of the most crucial aspects of human placentation.
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Endoplasmic reticulum stress disrupts placental morphogenesis: implications for human intrauterine growth restriction.
J. Pathol.
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We recently reported the first evidence of placental endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the pathophysiology of human intrauterine growth restriction. Here, we used a mouse model to investigate potential underlying mechanisms. Eif2s1(tm1RjK) mice, in which Ser51 of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 subunit alpha (eIF2?) is mutated, display a 30% increase in basal translation. In Eif2s1(tm1RjK) placentas, we observed increased ER stress and anomalous accumulation of glycoproteins in the endocrine junctional zone (Jz), but not in the labyrinthine zone where physiological exchange occurs. Placental and fetal weights were reduced by 15% (97 mg to 82 mg, p < 0.001) and 20% (1009 mg to 798 mg, p < 0.001), respectively. To investigate whether ER stress affects bioactivity of secreted proteins, mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) were derived from Eif2s1(tm1RjK) mutants. These MEFs exhibited ER stress, grew 50% slower, and showed reduced Akt-mTOR signalling compared to wild-type cells. Conditioned medium (CM) derived from Eif2s1(tm1RjK) MEFs failed to maintain trophoblast stem cells in a progenitor state, but the effect could be rescued by exogenous application of FGF4 and heparin. In addition, ER stress promoted accumulation of pro-Igf2 with altered glycosylation in the CM without affecting cellular levels, indicating that the protein failed to be processed after release. Igf2 is the major growth factor for placental development; indeed, activity in the Pdk1-Akt-mTOR pathways was decreased in Eif2s1(tm1RjK) placentas, indicating loss of Igf2 signalling. Furthermore, we observed premature differentiation of trophoblast progenitors at E9.5 in mutant placentas, consistent with the in vitro results and with the disproportionate development of the labyrinth and Jz seen in placentas at E18.5. Similar disproportion has been reported in the Igf2-null mouse. These results demonstrate that ER stress adversely affects placental development, and that modulation of post-translational processing, and hence bioactivity, of secreted growth factors contributes to this effect. Placental dysmorphogenesis potentially affects fetal growth through reduced exchange capacity. Copyright © 2012 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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The Centre for Trophoblast Research: improving health through placental research.
Reprod. Biomed. Online
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The placenta is an essential but widely neglected organ. As the interface between the mother and her fetus, the placenta represents the platform for a healthy life. The majority of the major complications of pregnancy, including miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction and stillbirth, have their pathophysiological roots in poor placentation. In addition, there is now irrefutable evidence that low birthweight predisposes to a higher risk of cardiovascular and other disorders in later life. The Centre for Trophoblast Research was established in the University of Cambridge with the aim of generating new impetus and a fresh approach to address these problems. Placentation involves many different cell biological processes, some of which are unique to the trophoblast, as well as complex interactions with the maternal immune system. The Centre brings together academic clinicians and basic scientists working in diverse disciplines and provides a rich intellectual environment that facilitates novel collaborative links. The Centre also encourages new investigators into the field and fosters their careers through a number of initiatives, including support for studentships and fellowships, developing research resources, hosting an annual scientific meeting and running a training course in placental biology. Full details can be found at www.trophoblast.cam.ac.uk.
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Endothelin-1 induces endoplasmic reticulum stress by activating the PLC-IP(3) pathway: implications for placental pathophysiology in preeclampsia.
Am. J. Pathol.
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Recent evidence implicates placental endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the pathophysiological characteristics of preeclampsia. Herein, we investigate whether endothelin (ET)-1, which induces Ca(2+) release from the ER, can induce placental ER stress. Loss of ER Ca(2+) homeostasis impairs post-translational modification of proteins, triggering ER stress-response pathways. IHC confirmed the presence of both ET-1 and its receptors in the syncytiotrophoblast. Protein levels and immunoreactivity of ET-1 and the endothelin B receptor (ETBR) were increased in preeclamptic samples compared with normotensive controls. JEG-3 and BeWo choriocarcinoma cells treated with ET-1 displayed an increase in ER stress markers. ET-1 induced phospho-activation of the ETBR. Treating cells with BQ788, an ETBR antagonist, or small-interfering RNA knockdown of the receptor inhibited induction of ER stress. ET-1 also stimulated p-phospholipase C (PLC)?1 levels. By using inhibitors of PLC activation, U73122, and the inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate (IP(3)) receptor, xestospongin-C, we demonstrated that ET-1 induces ER stress via the PLC-IP(3) pathway. Furthermore, ET-1 levels increased in the syncytiotrophoblast of explants from normal placentas after hypoxia-reoxygenation in vitro. Conditioned medium from hypoxia-reoxygenation explants also contained higher ET-1 levels, which induced ER stress in JEG-3 cells that was abolished by an ET-1-neutralizing antibody. Collectively, the data show that ET-1 induced ER stress in trophoblasts via the ETBR and initiation of signaling through the PLC-IP(3) pathway, with the potential for autocrine stimulation.
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Concentration of free vascular endothelial growth factor and its soluble receptor, sFlt-1 in the maternal and fetal circulations of normal term pregnancies at high and low altitudes.
J. Matern. Fetal. Neonatal. Med.
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Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is regulated by hypoxia that is essential for placental development. It is antagonized by a soluble form of its receptor (sFlt-1). The purpose of this study was to measure these factors in the maternal and the cord bloods, at low and high altitude.
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Evidence of endoplasmic reticulum stress and protein synthesis inhibition in the placenta of non-native women at high altitude.
FASEB J.
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Pregnancy at high altitude is associated with a reduction in birth weight of ?100 g/1000 m of ascent. The underlying mechanisms are unclear but may involve alteration in energy-demanding activities, such as protein synthesis. To test this hypothesis, both in vivo and in vitro approaches were used. Placental tissues from pregnant women residing at 3100 m were studied, and placental cells were incubated under hypoxia. In the 3100-m placentas, we observed dilation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) cisternae, increased phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 subunit ? (P-eIF2?), reduced AKT phosphorylation, and reduced P-4E-BP1 but increased 4E-BP1 protein compared to sea level controls. These findings suggest the presence of ER stress and protein synthesis inhibition. Hypoxia (1% O(2)) reduced proliferation of trophoblast-like JEG-3 cells, BeWo cells, and placental fibroblasts by ?40, ?60, and ?18%, respectively. Sublethal dosage of salubrinal, an eIF2? phosphatase inhibitor, increased P-eIF2? and reduced BeWo cell and placental fibroblast proliferation by ?50%. Administration of the PI-3K inhibitor LY294002 also reduced JEG-3 proliferation. Our results demonstrate that exposure to chronic hypobaric hypoxia causes mild placental ER stress, which, in turn, modulates protein synthesis and slows proliferation. These effects may account for the reduced placental villous volume, and contribute to the low birth weight that typifies high-altitude populations.
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What is Visualize?

JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.

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We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.

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In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.