The effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the pathophysiology of the placenta and its impact on pregnancy outcome has not yet been fully elucidated. Here, we present a comprehensive clinical, morphological, and molecular analysis of placental tissues from pregnant women with and without SARS-CoV-2 infection. SARS-CoV-2 could be detected in half of placental tissues from SARS-CoV-2-positive women. The presence of the virus was not associated with any distinctive pathological, maternal or neonatal outcome features. SARS-CoV-2 tissue load was low in all but one patient which exhibited severe placental damage leading to neonatal neurological manifestations. The placental transcriptional response induced by high viral load of SARS-CoV-2 showed an immunopathology phenotype similar to autopsy lung tissues from patients with severe COVID-19. This finding contrasted with the lack of inflammatory response in placental tissues from SARS-CoV-2-positive women with low viral tissue load and from SARS-CoV-2-negative women. Importantly, no evidence of vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was found in any newborns, suggesting that the placenta may be an effective maternal-neonatal barrier against the virus even in the presence of severe infection. Our observations suggest that severe placental damage induced by the virus may be detrimental for the neonate independently of vertical transmission.
Fulvia Milena Cribiù, Roberta Erra, Lorenza Pugni, Carlota Rubio-Perez, Lidia Alonso, Sara Simonetti, Giorgio A. Croci, Garazi Serna, Andrea Ronchi, Carlo Pietrasanta, Giovanna Lunghi, Anna Maria Fagnani, Maria Piñana, Matthias S. Matter, Alexandar Tzankov, Luigi Terracciano, Andres Anton, Enrico Ferrazzi, Stefano Ferrero, Enrico Iurlaro, Joan Seoane, Paolo Nuciforo
BACKGROUND Kisspeptin is a key regulator of hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and is essential for reproductive health. A specific kisspeptin receptor (KISS1R) agonist could significantly expand the potential clinical utility of therapeutics targeting the kisspeptin pathway. Herein, we investigate the effects of a KISS1R agonist, MVT-602, in healthy women and in women with reproductive disorders.METHODS We conducted in vivo and in vitro studies to characterize the action of MVT-602 in comparison with native kisspeptin-54 (KP54). We determined the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of MVT-602 (doses 0.01 and 0.03 nmol/kg) versus KP54 (9.6 nmol/kg) in the follicular phase of healthy women (n = 9), and in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS; n = 6) or hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA; n = 6). Further, we investigated their effects on KISS1R-mediated inositol monophosphate (IP1) and Ca2+ signaling in cell lines and on action potential firing of GnRH neurons in brain slices.RESULTS In healthy women, the amplitude of luteinizing hormone (LH) rise was similar to that after KP54, but peaked later (21.4 vs. 4.7 hours; P = 0.0002), with correspondingly increased AUC of LH exposure (169.0 vs. 38.5 IU∙h/L; P = 0.0058). LH increases following MVT-602 were similar in PCOS and healthy women, but advanced in HA (P = 0.004). In keeping with the clinical data, MVT-602 induced more potent signaling of KISS1R-mediated IP1 accumulation and a longer duration of GnRH neuron firing than KP54 (115 vs. 55 minutes; P = 0.0012).CONCLUSION Taken together, these clinical and mechanistic data identify MVT-602 as having considerable therapeutic potential for the treatment of female reproductive disorders.TRIAL REGISTRATION International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) Registry, ISRCTN21681316.FUNDING National Institute for Health Research and NIH.
Ali Abbara, Pei Chia Eng, Maria Phylactou, Sophie A. Clarke, Rachel Richardson, Charlene M. Sykes, Chayarndorn Phumsatitpong, Edouard Mills, Manish Modi, Chioma Izzi-Engbeaya, Debbie Papadopoulou, Kate Purugganan, Channa N. Jayasena, Lisa Webber, Rehan Salim, Bryn Owen, Paul Bech, Alexander N. Comninos, Craig A. McArdle, Margaritis Voliotis, Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, Suzanne Moenter, Aylin Hanyaloglu, Waljit S. Dhillo
Background. The effects of Covid-19 in pregnancy remain relatively unknown. We present a case of second trimester pregnancy with symptomatic Covid-19 complicated by severe preeclampsia and placental abruption. Methods. We analyzed placenta for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 through molecular and immunohistochemical assays and by and electron microscopy, and we measured the maternal antibody response in blood to this infection. Results. SARS-CoV-2 localized predominantly to syncytiotrophoblast cells at the maternal-fetal interface of the placenta. Histological examination of the placenta revealed a dense macrophage infiltrate, but no evidence for vasculopathy typically associated with preeclampsia. Conclusion. This case demonstrates SARS-CoV-2 invasion of the placenta, highlighting the potential for severe morbidity among pregnant women with Covid-19.
Hillary Hosier, Shelli F. Farhadian, Raffaella A. Morotti, Uma Deshmukh, Alice Lu-Culligan, Katherine H. Campbell, Yuki Yasumoto, Chantal B.F. Vogels, Arnau Casanovas-Massana, Pavithra Vijayakumar, Bertie Geng, Camila D. Odio, John Fournier, Anderson F. Brito, Joseph R. Fauver, Feimei Liu, Tara Alpert, Reshef Tal, Klara Szigeti-Buck, Sudhir Perincheri, Christopher P. Larsen, Aileen M. Gariepy, Gabriela Aguilar, Kristen L. Fardelmann, Malini Harigopal, Hugh S. Taylor, Christian M. Pettker, Anne L. Wyllie, Charles S. Dela Cruz, Aaron M. Ring, Nathan D. Grubaugh, Albert I. Ko, Tamas L. Horvath, Akiko Iwasaki, Uma M. Reddy, Heather S. Lipkind
Nadine Haase, Donald J. Foster, Mark W. Cunningham, Julia Bercher, Tuyen Nguyen, Svetlana Shulga-Morskaya, Stuart Milstein, Sarfraz Shaikh, Jeff Rollins, Michaela Golic, Florian Herse, Kristin Kräker, Ivo Bendix, Meray Serdar, Hanna Napieczynska, Arnd Heuser, Alexandra Gellhaus, Kristin Thiele, Gerd Wallukat, Dominik N. Müller, Babbette LaMarca, Ralf Dechend
Iron deficiency is common worldwide and is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. The increasing prevalence of indiscriminate iron supplementation during pregnancy also raises concerns about the potential adverse effects of iron excess. We examined how maternal iron status affects the delivery of iron to the placenta and fetus. Using mouse models, we documented maternal homeostatic mechanisms which protect the placenta and fetus from maternal iron excess. We determined that under physiological conditions or in iron deficiency, fetal and placental hepcidin does not regulate fetal iron endowment. With maternal iron deficiency, critical transporters mediating placental iron uptake (transferrin receptor 1, TFR1) and export (ferroportin, FPN) were strongly regulated. In mice, not only was TFR1 increased but FPN was surprisingly decreased to preserve placental iron, in the face of fetal iron deficiency. In human placentas from pregnancies with mild iron deficiency, TFR1 was increased but without a change in FPN. However, induction of more severe iron deficiency in human trophoblast in vitro resulted in the regulation of both TFR1 and FPN, similarly to the mouse model. This placental adaptation prioritizing placental iron is mediated by the iron-regulatory protein 1 and is important for the maintenance of mitochondrial respiration, thus ultimately protecting the fetus from the potentially dire consequences of generalized placental dysfunction.
Veena Sangkhae, Allison L. Fisher, Shirley Wong, Mary Dawn Koenig, Lisa Tussing-Humphreys, Alison Chu, Melisa Lelić, Tomas Ganz, Elizabeta Nemeth
Molecular heterogeneity of endothelial cells underlies their highly-specialized functions during changing physiological conditions within diverse vascular beds. For example, placental spiral arteries (SAs) undergo remarkable remodeling to meet the ever-growing demands of the fetus—a process which is deficient in preeclampsia. The extent to which maternal endothelial cells coordinate with immune cells and pregnancy hormones to promote SA remodeling remains largely unknown. Here we found that remodeled SAs expressed the lymphatic markers PROX1, LYVE1, and VEGFR3, mimicking lymphatic identity. Uterine natural killer (uNK) cells, which are required for SA remodeling and secrete VEGFC, were both sufficient and necessary for VEGFR3 activation in vitro and in mice lacking uNK cells, respectively. Using Flt4Chy/+ mice with kinase inactive VEGFR3 and Vegfcfl/fl;Vav1-Cre mice, we demonstrated that SA remodeling required VEGFR3 signaling, and that disrupted maternal VEGFR3 signaling contributed to late-gestation fetal growth restriction. Collectively, we identified a novel instance of lymphatic mimicry by which maternal endothelial cells promote SA remodeling, furthering our understanding of the vascular heterogeneity employed for the mitigation of pregnancy complications such as fetal growth restriction and preeclampsia.
John B. Pawlak, László Bálint, Lillian Lim, Wanshu Ma, Reema B. Davis, Zoltan Benyo, Michael J. Soares, Guillermo Oliver, Mark L. Kahn, Zoltán Jakus, Kathleen M. Caron
BACKGROUND. In women with obesity, excess gestational weight gain (≥270 g/week) occurs in two out of three pregnancies and contributes to metabolic impairments in both mother and baby. To improve obstetrical care, objectively assessed information on energy balance is urgently needed. The objective of this study was to characterize determinants of gestational weight gain in women with obesity. METHODS. This was a prospective, observational study of pregnant women with obesity. The primary outcome was energy intake calculated by the energy intake-balance method. Energy expenditure was measured by doubly-labeled water and whole-room indirect calorimetry and body composition as 3-compartment model by air displacement plethysmography and isotope dilution in early (13-16 weeks) and late pregnancy (35-37 weeks). RESULTS. In pregnant women with obesity (n=54), recommended weight gain (n=8, 15%) during the second and third trimesters was achieved when energy intake was 125±52 kcal/d less than energy expenditure. In contrast, women with excess weight gain (67%) consumed 186±29 kcal/d more than they expended (P<0.001). Energy balance affected maternal adiposity (recommended: -2.5±0.8 kg fat mass, excess: +2.2±0.5, inadequate: -4.5±0.5, P<0.001), but not fetal growth. Weight gain was not related to demographics, activity, metabolic biomarkers, or diet quality. We estimated that energy intake requirements for recommended weight gain during the second and third trimesters were not increased as compared to energy requirements early in pregnancy (34±53 kcal/d, P=0.83). CONCLUSIONS. We here provide the first evidence-based recommendations for energy intake in pregnant women with obesity. Contrary to current recommendations, energy intake should not exceed energy expenditure. FUNDING. This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01DK099175; Redman, U54GM104940 and P30DK072476; Core support). TRIAL REGISTRATION. clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01954342
Jasper Most, Marshall St Amant, Daniel Hsia, Abby Altazan, Diana Thomas, Anne Gilmore, Porsha Vallo, Robbie Beyl, Eric Ravussin, Leanne Redman
The negatively charged sugar sialic acid (Sia) occupies the outermost position in the bulk of cell surface glycans. Lack of sialylated glycans due to genetic ablation of the Sia activating enzyme CMP-sialic acid synthase (CMAS) resulted in embryonic lethality around day 9.5 post coitum (E9.5) in mice. Developmental failure was caused by complement activation on trophoblasts in Cmas-/- implants accompanied by infiltration of maternal neutrophils at the fetal-maternal interface, intrauterine growth restriction, impaired placental development and a thickened Reichert’s membrane. This phenotype, which shared features with complement-recepter-1 related protein Y (Crry) depletion, was rescued in E8.5 Cmas-/- mice upon injection of cobra venom factor resulting in exhaustion of the maternal complement component C3. Here we show that Sia is dispensable for early development of the embryo proper, but pivotal for fetal-maternal immune homeostasis during pregnancy, i.e. for protecting the allograft implant against attack by the maternal innate immune system. Finally, embryos devoid of cell surface sialylation suffered from malnutrition due to inadequate placentation as secondary effect.
Markus Abeln, Iris Albers, Ulrike Peters-Bernard, Kerstin Flächsig-Schulz, Elina Kats, Andreas Kispert, Stephen Tomlinson, Rita Gerardy-Schahn, Anja Münster-Kühnel, Birgit Weinhold
BACKGROUND. Injectable depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) is one of the most popular contraception methods in areas of high HIV seroprevalence. Evidence is accumulating that use of DMPA might be associated with an increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition by women; however, mechanisms of this association are not completely understood. The goal of this study was to gain insight into mechanisms underlying the possible link between use of DMPA and risk of HIV-1 acquisition, exploring transcription profiling of ectocervical tissues. METHODS. Healthy women received either DMPA (n = 31) or combined oral contraceptive (COC), which has not been linked to an increased risk of HIV acquisition (n = 32). We conducted a comparative microarray-based whole-genome transcriptome profiling of human ectocervical tissues before and after 6 weeks of hormonal contraception use. RESULTS. The analysis identified that expression of 235 and 76 genes was significantly altered after DMPA and COC use, respectively. The most striking effect of DMPA, but not COC, was significantly altered expression (mostly downregulation) of many genes strategically involved in the maintenance of mucosal barrier function; the alterations, as indicated by Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA), were most likely due to the DMPA-induced estrogen deficiency. Furthermore, IPA predicted that transcriptome alterations related to ectocervical immune responses were in general compatible with an immunosuppressive effect of DMPA, but, in some women, also with an inflammatory-like response. CONCLUSION. Our results suggest that impairment of cervicovaginal mucosal integrity in response to DMPA administration is an important mechanism contributing to the potential increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition in DMPA users. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01421368. FUNDING. This study was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under Cooperative Agreement GPO-A-00-08-00005-00.
Irina A. Zalenskaya, Neelima Chandra, Nazita Yousefieh, Xi Fang, Oluwatosin E. Adedipe, Suzanne S. Jackson, Sharon M. Anderson, Christine K. Mauck, Jill L. Schwartz, Andrea R. Thurman, Gustavo F. Doncel
Preeclampsia remains a clinical challenge due to its poorly understood pathogenesis. A prevailing notion is that increased placental production of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1) causes the maternal syndrome by inhibiting proangiogenic placental growth factor (PlGF) and VEGF. However, the significance of PlGF suppression in preeclampsia is uncertain. To test whether preeclampsia results from the imbalance of angiogenic factors reflected by an abnormal sFlt-1:PlGF ratio, we studied PlGF knockout (KO; Pgf–/–) mice and noted that while sFlt-1 was significantly elevated in pregnancy, the mice did not develop signs or sequelae of preeclampsia. Notably, PlGF KO mice had morphologically distinct placentas, showing an accumulation of junctional zone glycogen. We next considered the role of placental PlGF in an established model of preeclampsia (pregnant catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT)-deficient mice) by generating mice with deletions in both the Pgf and Comt genes. Deletion of placental PlGF in the context of COMT loss resulted in a reduction in maternal blood pressure and increased placental glycogen, indicating that loss of PlGF might be protective against the development of preeclampsia. These results identify a role for PlGF in placental development and support a complex model for the pathogenesis of preeclampsia beyond an angiogenic factor imbalance.
Jacqueline G. Parchem, Keizo Kanasaki, Megumi Kanasaki, Hikaru Sugimoto, Liang Xie, Yuki Hamano, Soo Bong Lee, Vincent H. Gattone, Samuel Parry, Jerome F. Strauss, Vesna D. Garovic, Thomas F. McElrath, Karen H. Lu, Baha M. Sibai, Valerie S. LeBleu, Peter Carmeliet, Raghu Kalluri