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19 September 2012 Leptin and the Placental Response to Maternal Food Restriction During Early Pregnancy in Mice
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Several studies have demonstrated that maternal undernutrition or overnutrition during pregnancy can have negative consequences for the health of children born to these pregnancies, but the physiological mechanisms by which this occurs are not completely understood. During periods of food restriction, concentrations of leptin decline, whereas leptin is elevated in obesity, suggesting that it may play a role in the response to altered nutrition during pregnancy. This study compares placental development and global placental gene expression profiles at Day 11.5 in pregnant control mice, mice that were undernourished, and mice that were undernourished but given leptin. Placentas from mothers exposed to food restriction preserved the placental labyrinth zone at the expense of the junctional zone, an effect abrogated in the restricted plus leptin group, which had a significant decrease in the labyrinth zone area compared with controls. Similarly, there were more significant differences in gene expression between placentas from control and restricted plus leptin mothers (1128 differentially expressed genes) than between placentas of control and restricted mothers (281 differentially expressed genes). We conclude that the presence of high concentrations of circulating leptin during food restriction disrupts the normal adaptive response of the placenta to reduced energy availability.

Laura Clamon Schulz, Jessica M. Schlitt, Gerialisa Caesar, and Kathleen A. Pennington "Leptin and the Placental Response to Maternal Food Restriction During Early Pregnancy in Mice," Biology of Reproduction 87(5), (19 September 2012).
Received: 5 July 2012; Accepted: 1 September 2012; Published: 19 September 2012

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