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Placental phenotype and resource allocation to fetal growth are modified by the timing and degree of hypoxia during mouse pregnancy.

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Higgins, JS 
Vaughan, OR 
Fernandez de Liger, E 
Fowden, AL 
Sferruzzi-Perri, AN 


The placenta adapts its transport capacity to nutritional cues developmentally, although relatively little is known about placental transport phenotype in response to hypoxia, a major cause of fetal growth restriction. The present study determined the effects of both moderate hypoxia (13% inspired O2) between days (D)11 and D16 or D14 and D19 of pregnancy and severe hypoxia (10% inspired O2) from D14 to D19 on placental morphology, transport capacity and fetal growth on D16 and D19 (term∼D20.5), relative to normoxic mice in 21% O2. Placental morphology adapted beneficially to 13% O2; fetal capillary volume increased at both ages, exchange area increased at D16 and exchange barrier thickness reduced at D19. Exposure to 13% O2 had no effect on placental nutrient transport on D16 but increased placental uptake and clearance of (3)H-methyl-D-glucose at D19. By contrast, 10% O2 impaired fetal vascularity, increased barrier thickness and reduced placental (14)C-methylaminoisobutyric acid clearance at D19. Consequently, fetal growth was only marginally affected in 13% O2 (unchanged at D16 and -5% at D19) but was severely restricted in 10% O2 (-21% at D19). The hypoxia-induced changes in placental phenotype were accompanied by altered placental insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-2 expression and insulin/IGF signalling, as well as by maternal hypophagia depending on the timing and severity of the hypoxia. Overall, the present study shows that the mouse placenta can integrate signals of oxygen and nutrient availability, possibly through the insulin-IGF pathway, to adapt its phenotype and optimize maternal resource allocation to fetal growth during late pregnancy. It also suggests that there is a threshold between 13% and 10% inspired O2 at which these adaptations no longer occur.



Adaptation, Physiological, Animals, Blood Glucose, Female, Fetal Growth Retardation, Fetal Hypoxia, Insulin, Insulin-Like Growth Factor II, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Oxygen, Phenotype, Placenta, Pregnancy, Second Messenger Systems

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J Physiol

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