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Endocrinology. 1996 May;137(5):2100-8.

Insulin-like growth factor II affects the appearance and glycogen content of glycogen cells in the murine placenta.

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Department of Neurology, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The phenotype of mice with a targeted disruption of the insulin-like growth factor II gene (IGF-II null mice) is growth retardation of both fetus and placenta during the last two thirds of gestation (1). We have compared the placenta of IGF-II null and wild-type mice from days 9-18 of gestation. No morphological differences were detected until after day 12 of gestation, when a new population of placental cells, the glycogen cells, normally first appears. Fewer glycogen cells were present in the null placenta compared to the wild-type placenta on days 13, 15, and 18 of gestation. By day 15, glycogen cells constituted approximately 50% of the basal zone cells in the wild-type placenta, but only 20% of the basal zone cells in the null placenta (P < 0.01). By contrast, spongiotrophoblasts constituted 40% of the basal zone cells in the wild-type placenta and 70% of the basal zone cells in the null placenta. There were no differences in cell size at any time. These results suggest that glycogen cells do not efficiently differentiate in the absence of IGF-II. The differentiation of glycogen cells did not appear to be simply delayed in the null placenta, as the number of glycogen cells in the null placenta did not increase between days 15-18, and there was no change in the ratio of glycogen to spongiotrophoblasts in the basal zone (P > 0.50). The glycogen content of both spongiotrophoblasts and glycogen cells was significantly reduced in the null placenta, suggesting that IGF-II may be an important regulator of glycogen synthesis in the placenta. These results indicate that IGF-II regulates cell number in the placenta and may play an important role in the differentiation of glycogen cells and the production of glycogen by placental cells.

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