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
Although it has been reported that hypoxia inducible factor 2 α (Hif2a), a major transcriptional factor inducible by low oxygen tension, is expressed in the mouse uterus during embryo implantation, its role in pregnancy outcomes remains unclear. This study aimed to clarify functions of uterine HIF using transgenic mouse models. Mice with deletion of Hif2a in the whole uterus (Hif2a-uKO mice) showed infertility due to implantation failure. Supplementation with progesterone (P4) and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) restored decidual growth arrest and aberrant position of implantation sites in Hif2a-uKO mice, respectively, but did not rescue pregnancy failure. Histological analyses in Hif2a-uKO mice revealed persistence of the intact luminal epithelium, which blocked direct contact between stroma and embryo, inactivation of PI3K-AKT pathway (embryonic survival signal), and failed embryo invasion. Mice with stromal deletion of Hif2a (Hif2a-sKO mice) showed infertility with impaired embryo invasion and those with epithelial deletion of Hif2a (Hif2a-eKO mice) showed normal fertility, suggesting the importance of stromal HIF2α in embryo invasion. This was reflected in reduced expression of membrane type 2 metalloproteinase (MT2-MMP), lysyl oxidase (LOX), VEGF, and adrenomedullin (ADM) in Hif2a-uKO stroma at the attachment site, suggesting that stromal HIF2α regulates these mediators to support blastocyst invasion. These findings provide new insight that stromal HIF2α allows trophoblast invasion through detachment of the luminal epithelium and activation of an embryonic survival signal.
Leona Matsumoto, Yasushi Hirota, Tomoko Saito-Fujita, Norihiko Takeda, Tomoki Tanaka, Takehiro Hiraoka, Shun Akaeda, Hidetoshi Fujita, Ryoko Shimizu-Hirota, Shota Igaue, Mitsunori Matsuo, Hirofumi Haraguchi, Mayuko Saito-Kanatani, Tomoyuki Fujii, Yutaka Osuga
Thirteen percent of pregnancies result in preterm birth or stillbirth, accounting for fifteen million preterm births and three and a half million deaths annually. A significant cause of these adverse pregnancy outcomes is in utero infection by vaginal microorganisms. To establish an in utero infection, vaginal microbes enter the uterus by ascending infection; however, the mechanisms by which this occurs are unknown. Using both in vitro and murine models of vaginal colonization and ascending infection, we demonstrate how a vaginal microbe, group B streptococcus (GBS), which is frequently associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, uses vaginal exfoliation for ascending infection. GBS induces vaginal epithelial exfoliation by activation of integrin and β-catenin signaling. However, exfoliation did not diminish GBS vaginal colonization as reported for other vaginal microbes. Rather, vaginal exfoliation increased bacterial dissemination and ascending GBS infection, and abrogation of exfoliation reduced ascending infection and improved pregnancy outcomes. Thus, for some vaginal bacteria, exfoliation promotes ascending infection rather than preventing colonization. Our study provides insight into mechanisms of ascending infection by vaginal microbes.
Jay Vornhagen, Blair Armistead, Verónica Santana-Ufret, Claire Gendrin, Sean Merillat, Michelle Coleman, Phoenicia Quach, Erica Boldenow, Varchita Alishetti, Christina Leonhard-Melief, Lisa Y. Ngo, Christopher Whidbey, Kelly S. Doran, Chad Curtis, Kristina M. Adams Waldorf, Elizabeth Nance, Lakshmi Rajagopal
Spermatogenesis is regulated by the 2 pituitary gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This process is considered impossible without the absolute requirement of LH-stimulated testicular testosterone (T) production. The role of FSH remains unclear because men and mice with inactivating FSH receptor (FSHR) mutations are fertile. We revisited the role of FSH in spermatogenesis using transgenic mice expressing a constitutively strongly active FSHR mutant in a LH receptor–null (LHR-null) background. The mutant FSHR reversed the azoospermia and partially restored fertility of Lhr–/– mice. The finding was initially ascribed to the residual Leydig cell T production. However, when T action was completely blocked with the potent antiandrogen flutamide, spermatogenesis persisted. Hence, completely T-independent spermatogenesis is possible through strong FSHR activation, and the dogma of T being a sine qua non for spermatogenesis may need modification. The mechanism for the finding appeared to be that FSHR activation maintained the expression of Sertoli cell genes considered androgen dependent. The translational message of our findings is the possibility of developing a new strategy of high-dose FSH treatment for spermatogenic failure. Our findings also provide an explanation of molecular pathogenesis for Pasqualini syndrome (fertile eunuchs; LH/T deficiency with persistent spermatogenesis) and explain how the hormonal regulation of spermatogenesis has shifted from FSH to T dominance during evolution.
Olayiwola O. Oduwole, Hellevi Peltoketo, Ariel Poliandri, Laura Vengadabady, Marcin Chrusciel, Milena Doroszko, Luna Samanta, Laura Owen, Brian Keevil, Nafis A. Rahman, Ilpo T. Huhtaniemi
Uncovering the causes of pregnancy complications such as preterm labor requires greater insight into how the uterus remains in a noncontractile state until term and then surmounts this state to enter labor. Here, we show that dynamic generation and erasure of the repressive histone modification tri-methyl histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) in decidual stromal cells dictate both elements of pregnancy success in mice. In early gestation, H3K27me3-induced transcriptional silencing of select gene targets ensured uterine quiescence by preventing the decidua from expressing parturition-inducing hormone receptors, manifesting type 1 immunity, and most unexpectedly, generating myofibroblasts and associated wound-healing responses. In late gestation, genome-wide H3K27 demethylation allowed for target gene upregulation, decidual activation, and labor entry. Pharmacological inhibition of H3K27 demethylation in late gestation not only prevented term parturition, but also inhibited delivery while maintaining pup viability in a noninflammatory model of preterm parturition. Immunofluorescence analysis of human specimens suggested that similar regulatory events might occur in the human decidua. Together, these results reveal the centrality of regulated gene silencing in the uterine adaptation to pregnancy and suggest new areas in the study and treatment of pregnancy disorders.
Patrice Nancy, Johan Siewiera, Gabrielle Rizzuto, Elisa Tagliani, Ivan Osokine, Priyanka Manandhar, Igor Dolgalev, Caterina Clementi, Aristotelis Tsirigos, Adrian Erlebacher