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Open AccessReview

Current Understanding of Autophagy in Pregnancy

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toyama, Toyama 930-0194, Japan
Departments of Pediatrics, Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI 02905, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(9), 2342;
Received: 12 April 2019 / Revised: 9 May 2019 / Accepted: 10 May 2019 / Published: 11 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Preeclampsia)
Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process in eukaryotes to maintain cellular homeostasis under environmental stress. Intracellular control is exerted to produce energy or maintain intracellular protein quality controls. Autophagy plays an important role in embryogenesis, implantation, and maintenance of pregnancy. This role includes supporting extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs) that invade the decidua (endometrium) until the first third of uterine myometrium and migrate along the lumina of spiral arterioles under hypoxic and low-nutrient conditions in early pregnancy. In addition, autophagy inhibition has been linked to poor placentation—a feature of preeclamptic placentas—in a placenta-specific autophagy knockout mouse model. Studies of autophagy in human placentas have revealed controversial results, especially with regard to preeclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Without precise estimation of autophagy flux, wrong interpretation would lead to fixed tissues. This paper presents a review of the role of autophagy in pregnancy and elaborates on the interpretation of autophagy in human placental tissues. View Full-Text
Keywords: Atg7; autophagy; lysosomes; placenta; preeclampsia; protein aggregation; p62/SQSTM1 Atg7; autophagy; lysosomes; placenta; preeclampsia; protein aggregation; p62/SQSTM1
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MDPI and ACS Style

Nakashima, A.; Tsuda, S.; Kusabiraki, T.; Aoki, A.; Ushijima, A.; Shima, T.; Cheng, S.-B.; Sharma, S.; Saito, S. Current Understanding of Autophagy in Pregnancy. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 2342.

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