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Reprod Sci. 2014 May;21(5):648-57. doi: 10.1177/1933719113508815. Epub 2013 Oct 23.

Trophoblast invasion and blood vessel remodeling are altered in a rat model of lifelong maternal obesity.

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1Department of Pediatrics and the Graduate Program in Medical Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Maternal obesity is associated with an increased risk of a number of pregnancy complications, including fetal demise, which may be linked to impaired placental development as a result of altered trophoblast invasion and vessel remodeling. Therefore, we examined these parameters in pregnant rats fed a control (normal weight) or high fat (HF) diet (obese) at 2 critical times of rat placental development. Early trophoblast invasion was increased by approximately 2-fold in HF-fed dams with a concomitant increase in the expression of matrix metalloproteinase 9 protein, a mediator of tissue remodeling and invasion. Furthermore, we observed significantly higher levels of smooth muscle actin surrounding the placental spiral arteries of HF-fed dams, suggesting impaired spiral artery remodeling. Taken together, the results of this study suggest that altered placental development is an important contributor to the poor pregnancy outcomes and increased fetal demise in our model of lifelong maternal obesity.


obesity; placenta; trophoblast invasion; vascular remodeling

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