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Wang Y, Zhao S. Vascular Biology of the Placenta. San Rafael (CA): Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences; 2010.

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Vascular Biology of the Placenta.

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Chapter 11Summary

The placenta is the first organ to be formed during pregnancy. Although the placenta is a temporary organ connecting the mother and the fetus, it plays fundamental roles during pregnancy. The placenta controls oxygen and metabolite exchange, produces growth factors and hormones, and transfers nutrients to support fetal development. The placenta modifies maternal adaptation to pregnancy. Fetal survival and growth are also dependent on a well-established and functional placenta. However, healthy pregnancy outcomes to both the mother and fetus rely on normal functional placental trophoblasts and proper remodeling of uterine spiral arteries during the earlier stages of pregnancy. Physiological conversion of the uterine spiral arteries and adequate maternal blood supply to perfuse the placenta is key to a successful human pregnancy. In contrast, defective placentation, impaired trophoblast invasion, and failure of sufficient remodeling of spiral arteries are often the common features of adverse pregnancy outcomes including early pregnancy loss, intrauterine growth restriction, and preeclampsia. These adverse pregnancy outcomes in women associated with abnormal placental and vascular development during pregnancy are now recognized as a predisposing factor that makes a significant impact on the development of cardiovascular diseases later in life. Studies have shown that women with a history of abnormal placental syndromes are at additional risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders in later life such as hypertension, ischemic heart diseases, stroke, and diabetes. In addition, abnormal placental function (increased vascular resistance, improper nutrient transport, and epigenetic gene imprinting) also has an impact on fetal adaptations central to programming. Although, in the past few decades, significant progress has been made in the field of placental vascular biology owing to advanced cellular and molecular technologies. Still, the placenta remains a fascinating and enigmatic organ. Many unknowns await answers. Therefore, placental research has always been an active area of investigation in the past, today, and will continue to be in the future.

Copyright © 2010 by Morgan & Claypool Life Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK53244

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