Review: The feto-placental unit, pregnancy pathology and impact on long term maternal health

The Robinson Institute, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Adelaide, SA, Australia.
Placenta (Impact Factor: 2.71). 11/2011; 33 Suppl(Suppl):S37-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.placenta.2011.11.005
Source: PubMed


Pregnancy induces a number of alterations to maternal physiology to accommodate the increased demands made by the developing fetus and placenta. These alterations appear at least in part to be driven by products derived from the feto-placental unit, including microchimeric cells, as well as placental exosomes and microparticles, inducing changes to maternal physiology both during pregnancy and beyond. Further, increasing evidence suggests that some of these alterations are dependent on the sex of the fetus. Pre-eclampsia and asthma represent two common pregnancy complications that have provided valuable insight into how the feto-placental unit influences maternal physiology in a sex-specific manner. Pregnancy-induced alterations in maternal physiology may expose pre-existing subclinical pathologies and provide insight into future maternal health and disease. While most pregnancy-induced alterations to the maternal system are reversed following delivery, some can persist after parturition leading to cardiovascular, metabolic and autoimmune disease and increased risk of early mortality.

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    • "The differences in risk among ethnic groups suggest a strong role for genetic factors in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. Most theories on the etiology of preeclampsia suggest that the disease is a cascade triggered by combination of abnormal maternal inflammatory response, endothelial cell activation/damage with deranged hemodynamic milieu, and deranged immunity [7–12]. The precise trigger that unifies the deranged vascular, immune and inflammatory responses remains to be elucidated. "
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    ABSTRACT: Preeclampsia is a common complication of pregnancy associated with high maternal morbidity and mortality and intrauterine fetal growth restriction. There is extensive evidence that the reduction of uteroplacental blood flow in this syndrome results from the toxic combination of hypoxia, imbalance of angiogenic and antiangiogenic factors, inflammation, and deranged immunity. Women treated for preeclampsia also have an increased risk for cardiovascular and renal disease. At present it is unclear if the increased cardiovascular and renal disease risks are due to residual and or progressive effects of endothelial damage from the preeclampsia or from shared risk factors between preeclampsia and cardiac disease. Moreover, it appears that endothelin-1 signaling may play a central role in the hypertension associated with preeclampsia. In this paper, we discuss emerging data on the pathogenesis of preeclampsia and review therapeutic options.
    Journal of pregnancy 07/2012; 2012(1):586578. DOI:10.1155/2012/586578
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    ABSTRACT: Angiotensin II type I receptor agonistic autoantibodies (AT1-AA) are related to pre-eclampsia and hypertension and have a direct effect of stimulating the production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) in the placenta. TNF-α is a known mediator of apoptosis. However, few studies have reported the role of TNF-α and its relationship within AT1-AA-induced apoptosis of cardiomyocytes. In this study, neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were treated with various concentrations of AT1-AA. The apoptosis of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes was determined using TUNEL assay and flow cytometry. The level of secreted TNF-α was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and caspase-3 activity was measured by a fluorogenic protease assay kit. AT1 receptor blockade and TNF inhibitor were added to determine whether they could inhibit the apoptotic effect of AT1-AA. Results showed that AT1-AA induced the apoptosis of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner. AT1-AA increased TNF secretion and caspase-3 activities. AT1 receptor blockade completely abrogated AT1-AA-induced TNF-α secretion, caspase-3 activation, and cardiomyocyte apoptosis. TNF-α receptor inhibitor significantly attenuated AT1-AA-induced neonatal rat cardiomyocyte apoptosis. AT1-AA in the plasma of pre-eclamptic patients promoted neonatal rat cardiomyocyte apoptosis through a TNF-caspase signaling pathway.
    Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica 10/2012; 44(12). DOI:10.1093/abbs/gms087 · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effect of preeclampsia (PE) and gestational hypertension (GH) on subsequent hypothyroidism. Recent studies suggest that women with PE have increased risk for reduced thyroid function, but the association between PE and GH with overt hypothyroidism has not been examined. STUDY DESIGN: Two prospective population-based cohort studies, the Northern Finland Birth Cohorts 1966 and 1986, followed women who had PE (N=955), GH (N=1449) or were normotensive (N=13531) during pregnancy. Finnish national registers were used to confirm subsequent hypothyroidism. Adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) estimated hypothyroidism risk when comparing women with PE or GH with normotensive women. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary hypothyroidism during follow-up of 20-40 years. RESULTS: The subsequent prevalence of hypothyroidism was higher among women with PE (4.0%) and GH (4.5%) compared with normotensive women (3.5%), but the risk increase was not significant (aHR for PE 1.13, 95%CI 0.80-1.59 and aHR for GH 1.11, 95%CI 0.85-1.45). Subgroup analysis among nulliparous women revealed a significant association between late PE and subsequent hypothyroidism (aHR 1.82, 95%CI 1.04-3.19). Early or recurrent PE were not associated with hypothyroidism (aHR 0.93, 95%CI 0.46-1.81 and aHR 1.35, 95%CI 0.63-2.88, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Overall, PE or GH during pregnancy was not significantly associated with subsequent hypothyroidism in Finnish women after 20-40 years of follow-up. However, late PE in nulliparous women was associated with a 1.8-fold increased risk of subsequent hypothyroidism, a finding that merits further study in other populations.
    Pregnancy Hypertension 02/2013; 3(1):21-27. DOI:10.1016/j.preghy.2012.09.001
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