Effects of Maternal Obesity On Placental Phenotype

Author(s): A.L. Fowden*, E.J. Camm, A.N. Sferruzzi-Perri

Journal Name: Current Vascular Pharmacology

Volume 19 , Issue 2 , 2021

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Graphical Abstract:


The incidence of obesity is rising rapidly worldwide with the consequence that more women are entering pregnancy overweight or obese. This leads to an increased incidence of clinical complications during pregnancy and of poor obstetric outcomes. The offspring of obese pregnancies are often macrosomic at birth although there is also a subset of the progeny that are growth-restricted at term. Maternal obesity during pregnancy is also associated with cardiovascular, metabolic and endocrine dysfunction in the offspring later in life. As the interface between the mother and fetus, the placenta has a central role in programming intrauterine development and is known to adapt its phenotype in response to environmental conditions such as maternal undernutrition and hypoxia. However, less is known about placental function in the abnormal metabolic and endocrine environment associated with maternal obesity during pregnancy. This review discusses the placental consequences of maternal obesity induced either naturally or experimentally by increasing maternal nutritional intake and/or changing the dietary composition. It takes a comparative, multi-species approach and focusses on placental size, morphology, nutrient transport, metabolism and endocrine function during the later stages of obese pregnancy. It also examines the interventions that have been made during pregnancy in an attempt to alleviate the more adverse impacts of maternal obesity on placental phenotype. The review highlights the potential role of adaptations in placental phenotype as a contributory factor to the pregnancy complications and changes in fetal growth and development that are associated with maternal obesity.

Keywords: Obesity, placenta, development, programming, pregnancy, gestational diabetes.

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Article Details

Year: 2021
Published on: 30 December, 2020
Page: [113 - 131]
Pages: 19
DOI: 10.2174/1570161118666200513115316
Price: $65

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