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Placenta. 2009 Sep;30(9):752-60. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2009.06.007. Epub 2009 Jul 25.

Feto-placental adaptations to maternal obesity in the baboon.

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Center of Pregnancy-related and Newborn Research, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA.


Maternal obesity is present in 20-34% of pregnant women and has been associated with both intrauterine growth restriction and large-for-gestational age fetuses. While fetal and placental functions have been extensively studied in the baboon, no data are available on the effect of maternal obesity on placental structure and function in this species. We hypothesize that maternal obesity in the baboon is associated with a maternal inflammatory state and induces structural and functional changes in the placenta. The major findings of this study were: 1) decreased placental syncytiotrophoblast amplification factor, intact syncytiotrophoblast endoplasmic reticulum structure and decreased system A placental amino acid transport in obese animals; 2) fetal serum amino acid composition and mononuclear cells (PBMC) transcriptome were different in fetuses from obese compared with non-obese animals; and 3) maternal obesity in humans and baboons is similar in regard to increased placental and adipose tissue macrophage infiltration, increased CD14 expression in maternal PBMC and maternal hyperleptinemia. In summary, these data demonstrate that in obese baboons in the absence of increased fetal weight, placental and fetal phenotype are consistent with those described for large-for-gestational age human fetuses.

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