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Placental Adaptations in Growth Restriction

Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group, Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia
Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON N6A 5C1, Canada
Departments of Physiology and Biochemistry, University of Western Ontario, London, ON N6A 5C1, Canada
The Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2015, 7(1), 360-389;
Received: 18 November 2014 / Accepted: 22 December 2014 / Published: 8 January 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition in Pregnancy)
PDF [283 KB, uploaded 8 January 2015]


The placenta is the primary interface between the fetus and mother and plays an important role in maintaining fetal development and growth by facilitating the transfer of substrates and participating in modulating the maternal immune response to prevent immunological rejection of the conceptus. The major substrates required for fetal growth include oxygen, glucose, amino acids and fatty acids, and their transport processes depend on morphological characteristics of the placenta, such as placental size, morphology, blood flow and vascularity. Other factors including insulin-like growth factors, apoptosis, autophagy and glucocorticoid exposure also affect placental growth and substrate transport capacity. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is often a consequence of insufficiency, and is associated with a high incidence of perinatal morbidity and mortality, as well as increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in later life. Several different experimental methods have been used to induce placental insufficiency and IUGR in animal models and a range of factors that regulate placental growth and substrate transport capacity have been demonstrated. While no model system completely recapitulates human IUGR, these animal models allow us to carefully dissect cellular and molecular mechanisms to improve our understanding and facilitate development of therapeutic interventions. View Full-Text
Keywords: placental morphology; vascularity; substrate transport; IUGR placental morphology; vascularity; substrate transport; IUGR

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Zhang, S.; Regnault, T.R.; Barker, P.L.; Botting, K.J.; McMillen, I.C.; McMillan, C.M.; Roberts, C.T.; Morrison, J.L. Placental Adaptations in Growth Restriction. Nutrients 2015, 7, 360-389.

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