Article

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: 3.29). 11/2011; 33 Suppl(Suppl):S37-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.placenta.2011.11.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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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    Journal of pregnancy 07/2012; 2012:586578. DOI:10.1155/2012/586578
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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.
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