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Cambridge, United Kingdom

Yung H.W.,University of Cambridge | Hemberger M.,University of Cambridge | Hemberger M.,Babraham Institute | Watson E.D.,University of Cambridge | And 9 more authors.
Journal of Pathology | Year: 2012

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. Eif2s1tm1RjK mice, in which Ser51 of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 subunit alpha (eIF2α) is mutated, display a 30% increase in basal translation. In Eif2s1tm1RjK 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 Eif2s1tm1RjK 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 Eif2s1tm1RjK 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 Eif2s1tm1RjK 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. Source

Burton G.J.,Center for Trophoblast Research | Scioscia M.,Sacro Cuore Don Calabria | Rademacher T.W.,University College London | Rademacher T.W.,University of Oxford
Journal of Reproductive Immunology | Year: 2011

Endometrial glands represent an important source of nutrients for the conceptus during the first trimester. Their secretions are enriched with carbohydrates, and glycogen accumulates within the syncytiotrophoblast of the placenta. It has been assumed that fetal and placental metabolism follow adult pathways, although it is now appreciated that early development occurs in a low-oxygen environment. In past decades, a novel family of putative insulin mediators, inositol phosphoglycans (IPGs), was discovered. These molecules act as allosteric activators and/or inhibitors of enzymes and transduction proteins involved in the control of cell signalling and metabolic pathways, and determine the specificity of responses after activation of the insulin receptor. One member, IPG P-type, activates pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase (PDH-Pase), glycogen synthase phosphatase, and glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase. Activation of key phosphatases play a major role in the regulation of glucose disposal by oxidative metabolism via PDH, and the non-oxidative storage by glycogen synthesis, both pathways classically known to be regulated by insulin. High concentrations of IPG P-type in amniotic fluid suggest a role in the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism in the fetal-placental unit. Glycogen accumulation in the syncytiotrophoblast also occurs in preeclamptic pregnancies, and is consistently associated with higher placental levels of IPG P-type. Here, we explore the relationship between nutrients provided by the endometrial glands during early pregnancy, IPG P-type and fetal metabolic requirements. We also discuss whether a disconnect between the placental/fetal metabolic state and oxygen tension could lead to a preeclamptic-type syndrome via leakage of Warburg/IPG mediators into the maternal circulation. © 2011. Source

Jones C.J.P.,University of Manchester | Aplin J.D.,University of Manchester | Burton G.J.,Center for Trophoblast Research
Placenta | Year: 2010

Objectives: Histiotrophe is now recognized as being an important feature of early human pregnancy, providing nutrients and growth factors to the developing embryo. Our aim was to examine the glycan composition of histiotrophe from first trimester decidua and to compare it with secretions present in endometrial glands from the late secretory phase of the menstrual cycle. Study design: Twenty samples of decidua from pregnancies between 8 and 11 weeks were processed into epoxy resin and sections stained with a panel of 22 lectins, together with six late secretory phase endometrial biopsies. Main outcome measures: Specimens were analysed using a semi-quantitative ranking system and the density of lectin binding to the glandular secretions and the epithelium assessed. Results: With the onset of pregnancy, β-galactose, α-N-acetyl galactosamine and N-Acetyl lactosamine bound by Arachis hypogaea, Glycine max, Helix pomatia and Erythrina crystagalli agglutinins appeared in terminal positions on oligosaccharide chains, suggesting loss of the capping sialic acid residues present in the non-pregnant state. Conclusions: Suppression of terminal sialylation is evident during early pregnancy, suggesting that modifications to endometrial glandular activity occur in response to placental signals. The changes may facilitate absorption of histiotrophe by the trophoblast and enhance availability of substrates for degradation. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Jedrusik A.,Wellcome Trust CR UK Gurdon Institute | Jedrusik A.,Center for Trophoblast Research
Reproductive BioMedicine Online | Year: 2013

Early mammalian development consists of two distinct phases separated by the event of implantation. Whereas much has been discovered about developmental mechanisms prior to implantation, the inability to culture and follow in real time cell behaviour over the period of implantation means that the second phase has not been explored in as much detail. Recently, a novel in-vitro culture system was described that permits continuous culture and time-lapse observations through the peri- and early post-implantation stages. This system has already delivered detailed information on the cellular processes accompanying early morphogenesis and allowed direct connections to be established between events occurring at the two developmental phases. This review discusses the potential of this novel technology and its possible applications that could have not only impact on basic science but also practical implications for human medicine. © 2013, Reproductive Healthcare Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Johnson M.H.,Center for Trophoblast Research
Reproductive BioMedicine Online | Year: 2011

The early influences on Robert Edwards' approach to the scientific research that led to human IVF are described. His interest as a graduate student in the genetics of early mammalian development stimulated him later to investigate whether the origins of human genetic diseases such as Down, Klinefelter and Turner syndromes might be explained by events during egg maturation. This clinical problem provided the most powerful stimulus to achieve both oocyte maturation and fertilization in vitro in humans. Indeed, preimplantation genetic diagnosis was his main goal until he met Patrick Steptoe in 1968. A re-evaluation of his meeting with Steptoe suggests that initially Steptoe's laparoscopic skill was of interest for its potential to solve the sperm capacitation problem. Steptoe's impact on Edwards was twofold. First, Steptoe's long-held interest in infertility raised this application of IVF higher in Edwards' priorities. Second, Steptoe offered a long-term partnership, in which oocyte collection without in-vitro maturation was a possibility. The professional criticism generated by their work together encouraged Edwards to pursue a deliberate programme of public education about the issues raised and to challenge and develop professional bioethical thought and discourse about reproduction. The early life and career of Robert Edwards are described and re-evaluated in the light of documentary evidence. His early interest in the genetics of development provided the major motivation behind his goal of achieving IVF in humans. Through this work, he aimed to understand and hopefully to reduce the transmission of genetic disease in humans. His meeting with Patrick Steptoe, the details of which are re-examined, increased the significance for Edwards of infertility as an outcome of IVF. It also led to a creative long-term research partnership, initiated a long-term programme of public education in the UK about reproductive science and stimulated the development of bioethical thinking. © 2011, Reproductive Healthcare Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

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