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      Regulation of Placental Development and Its Impact on Fetal Growth—New Insights From Mouse Models


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          The placenta is the chief regulator of nutrient supply to the growing embryo during gestation. As such, adequate placental function is instrumental for developmental progression throughout intrauterine development. One of the most common complications during pregnancy is insufficient growth of the fetus, a problem termed intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) that is most frequently rooted in a malfunctional placenta. Together with conventional gene targeting approaches, recent advances in screening mouse mutants for placental defects, combined with the ability to rapidly induce mutations in vitro and in vivo by CRISPR-Cas9 technology, has provided new insights into the contribution of the genome to normal placental development. Most importantly, these data have demonstrated that far more genes are required for normal placentation than previously appreciated. Here, we provide a summary of common types of placental defects in established mouse mutants, which will help us gain a better understanding of the genes impacting on human placentation. Based on a recent mouse mutant screen, we then provide examples on how these data can be mined to identify novel molecular hubs that may be critical for placental development. Given the close association between placental defects and abnormal cardiovascular and brain development, these functional nodes may also shed light onto the etiology of birth defects that co-occur with placental malformations. Taken together, recent insights into the regulation of mouse placental development have opened up new avenues for research that will promote the study of human pregnancy conditions, notably those based on defects in placentation that underlie the most common pregnancy pathologies such as IUGR and pre-eclampsia.

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          Most cited references135

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          Role of the Flt-1 receptor tyrosine kinase in regulating the assembly of vascular endothelium.

          The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its high-affinity binding receptors, the tyrosine kinases Flt-1 and Flk-1, are thought to be important for the development of embryonic vasculature. Here we report that Flt-1 is essential for the organization of embryonic vasculature, but is not essential for endothelial cell differentiation. Mouse embryos homozygous for a targeted mutation in the flt-1 locus, flt-1lcz, formed endothelial cells in both embryonic and extra-embryonic regions, but assembled these cells into abnormal vascular channels and died in utero at mid-somite stages. At earlier stages, the blood islands of flt-1lcz homozygotes were abnormal, with angioblasts in the interior as well as on the periphery. We suggest that the Flt-1 signalling pathway may regulate normal endothelial cell-cell or cell-matrix interactions during vascular development.
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            Maternal and fetal risk factors for stillbirth: population based study

            Objective To assess the main risk factors associated with stillbirth in a multiethnic English maternity population. Design Cohort study. Setting National Health Service region in England. Population 92 218 normally formed singletons including 389 stillbirths from 24 weeks of gestation, delivered during 2009-11. Main outcome measure Risk of stillbirth. Results Multivariable analysis identified a significant risk of stillbirth for parity (para 0 and para ≥3), ethnicity (African, African-Caribbean, Indian, and Pakistani), maternal obesity (body mass index ≥30), smoking, pre-existing diabetes, and history of mental health problems, antepartum haemorrhage, and fetal growth restriction (birth weight below 10th customised birthweight centile). As potentially modifiable risk factors, maternal obesity, smoking in pregnancy, and fetal growth restriction together accounted for 56.1% of the stillbirths. Presence of fetal growth restriction constituted the highest risk, and this applied to pregnancies where mothers did not smoke (adjusted relative risk 7.8, 95% confidence interval 6.6 to 10.9), did smoke (5.7, 3.6 to 10.9), and were exposed to passive smoke only (10.0, 6.6 to 15.8). Fetal growth restriction also had the largest population attributable risk for stillbirth and was fivefold greater if it was not detected antenatally than when it was (32.0% v 6.2%). In total, 195 of the 389 stillbirths in this cohort had fetal growth restriction, but in 160 (82%) it had not been detected antenatally. Antenatal recognition of fetal growth restriction resulted in delivery 10 days earlier than when it was not detected: median 270 (interquartile range 261-279) days v 280 (interquartile range 273-287) days. The overall stillbirth rate (per 1000 births) was 4.2, but only 2.4 in pregnancies without fetal growth restriction, increasing to 9.7 with antenatally detected fetal growth restriction and 19.8 when it was not detected. Conclusion Most normally formed singleton stillbirths are potentially avoidable. The single largest risk factor is unrecognised fetal growth restriction, and preventive strategies need to focus on improving antenatal detection.
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              PPAR gamma is required for placental, cardiac, and adipose tissue development.

              The nuclear hormone receptor PPAR gamma promotes adipogenesis and macrophage differentiation and is a primary pharmacological target in the treatment of type II diabetes. Here, we show that PPAR gamma gene knockout results in two independent lethal phases. Initially, PPAR gamma deficiency interferes with terminal differentiation of the trophoblast and placental vascularization, leading to severe myocardial thinning and death by E10.0. Supplementing PPAR gamma null embryos with wild-type placentas via aggregation with tetraploid embryos corrects the cardiac defect, implicating a previously unrecognized dependence of the developing heart on a functional placenta. A tetraploid-rescued mutant surviving to term exhibited another lethal combination of pathologies, including lipodystrophy and multiple hemorrhages. These findings both confirm and expand the current known spectrum of physiological functions regulated by PPAR gamma.

                Author and article information

                Front Endocrinol (Lausanne)
                Front Endocrinol (Lausanne)
                Front. Endocrinol.
                Frontiers in Endocrinology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                27 September 2018
                : 9
                : 570
                [1] 1Epigenetics Programme, The Babraham Institute , Cambridge, United Kingdom
                [2] 2Centre for Trophoblast Research, University of Cambridge , Cambridge, United Kingdom
                Author notes

                Edited by: Elke Winterhager, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Germany

                Reviewed by: Ana Claudia Zenclussen, Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg, Germany; Torsten Plösch, University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands

                *Correspondence: Vicente Perez-Garcia vicente.perez-garcia@ 123456babraham.ac.uk

                This article was submitted to Reproduction, a section of the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology

                †Present Address: Myriam Hemberger, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

                Copyright © 2018 Woods, Perez-Garcia and Hemberger.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 27 July 2018
                : 06 September 2018
                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 157, Pages: 18, Words: 14968
                Funded by: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council 10.13039/501100000268
                Funded by: Medical Research Council 10.13039/501100000265

                Endocrinology & Diabetes
                placenta,trophoblast,mouse models,iugr,fetal growth restriction,dmdd
                Endocrinology & Diabetes
                placenta, trophoblast, mouse models, iugr, fetal growth restriction, dmdd


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