Human placenta development and a successful pregnancy is incumbent upon precise oxygen-dependent control of trophoblast migration/invasion. Persistent low oxygen leading to failed trophoblast invasion promotes inadequate spiral artery remodeling, a characteristic of preeclampsia. Angiomotin (AMOT) is a multifaceted scaffolding protein involved in cell polarity and migration, yet its upstream regulation and significance in the human placenta remain unknown. Herein, we show that AMOT is primarily expressed in migratory extravillous trophoblast cells (EVTs) of the intermediate and distal anchoring column. Its expression increases after 10 weeks of gestation when oxygen tension rises and EVT migration/invasion peaks. Time-lapse imaging confirmed that the AMOT 80-kDa isoform promotes migration of trophoblastic JEG3 and HTR-8/SVneo cells. In preeclampsia, however, AMOT expression is decreased and its localization to migratory fetomaternal interface EVTs is disrupted. We demonstrate that Jumonji C domain–containing protein 6 (JMJD6), an oxygen sensor, positively regulates AMOT via oxygen-dependent lysyl hydroxylation. Furthermore, in vitro and ex vivo studies show that transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) regulates AMOT expression, its interaction with polarity protein PAR6, and its subcellular redistribution from tight junctions to cytoskeleton. Our data reveal an oxygen- and TGF-β–driven migratory function for AMOT in the human placenta, and implicate its deficiency in impaired trophoblast migration that plagues preeclampsia.
Abby Farrell, Sruthi Alahari, Leonardo Ermini, Andrea Tagliaferro, Michael Litvack, Martin Post, Isabella Caniggia
Zika virus (ZIKV) infection during pregnancy causes significant adverse sequelae in the developing fetus, and results in long-term structural and neurologic defects. Most preventive and therapeutic efforts have focused on the development of vaccines, antivirals, and antibodies. The placental immunologic response to ZIKV, however, has been largely overlooked as a target for therapeutic intervention. The placental inflammatory response, specifically IL-1β secretion and signaling, is induced by ZIKV infection and represents an environmental factor that is known to increase the risk of perinatal developmental abnormalities. We show in a mouse model that maternally administrated IL-1 receptor antagonist (IRA; Kineret, or anakinra), following ZIKV exposure, can preserve placental function (by improving trophoblast invasion and placental vasculature), increase fetal viability, and reduce neurobehavioral deficits in the offspring. We further demonstrate that while ZIKV RNA is highly detectable in placentas, it is not correlated with fetal viability. Beyond its effects in the placenta, we show that IL-1 blockade may also directly decrease fetal neuroinflammation by mitigating fetal microglial activation in a dose-dependent manner. Our studies distinguish the role of placental inflammation during ZIKV-infected pregnancies, and demonstrate that maternal IRA may attenuate fetal neuroinflammation and improve perinatal outcomes.
Jun Lei, Meghan S. Vermillion, Bei Jia, Han Xie, Li Xie, Michael W. McLane, Jeanne S. Sheffield, Andrew Pekosz, Amanda Brown, Sabra L. Klein, Irina Burd
In utero hypoxia is a major cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality and predisposes to adult cardiovascular disease. No therapies exist to correct fetal hypoxia. In a new ex utero fetal support system, we tested the hypothesis that hypoxemic support of the fetus impairs myocardial development, whereas normoxic support allows normal myocardial development. Preterm fetal lambs were connected via umbilical vessels to a low-resistance oxygenator and placed in a sterile-fluid environment. Control normoxic fetuses received normal fetal oxygenation, and hypoxemic fetuses received subphysiologic oxygenation. Fetuses with normal in utero development served as normal controls. Hypoxemic fetuses exhibited decreased maximum cardiac output in both ventricles, diastolic function, myocyte and myocyte nuclear size, and increased myocardial capillary density versus control normoxic fetuses. There were no differences between control normoxic fetuses in the fetal support system and normal in utero controls. Chronic fetal hypoxemia resulted in significant abnormalities in myocyte architecture and myocardial capillary density as well as systolic and diastolic cardiac function, whereas control fetuses showed no differences. This ex utero fetal support system has potential to become a significant research tool and novel therapy to correct fetal hypoxia.
Kendall M. Lawrence, Samson Hennessy-Strahs, Patrick E. McGovern, Ali Y. Mejaddam, Avery C. Rossidis, Heron D. Baumgarten, Esha Bansal, Maryann Villeda, Jiancheng Han, Zhongshan Gou, Sheng Zhao, Jack Rychik, William H. Peranteau, Marcus G. Davey, Alan W. Flake, J. William Gaynor, Carlo R. Bartoli
BACKGROUND. An intricate fetal-maternal immune crosstalk during pregnancy is essential for a healthy birth. Hence, the infection-induced alterations of maternal immunity often lead to adverse outcomes for mother and/or child. The emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in pregnant women has been associated with more than 3,000 cases of microcephaly and nervous system malformations. METHODS. To explore the potential correlation of ZIKV-induced alteration of maternal immunity with fetal abnormalities, we performed extensive sera immunoprofiling of 74 pregnant women: 30 symptomatic ZIKV+ pregnant patients and 30 healthy pregnant controls in ZIKV-endemic Rio de Janeiro, along with 14 healthy pregnant controls in non-endemic Los Angeles. RESULTS. Extensive multiplexing analysis of 69 cytokines revealed that CXCL10, CCL2, and CCL8 chemokines were specifically associated with symptomatic ZIKV+ infection during pregnancy, and distinct immunoprofiles were detected at different trimesters in ZIKV-infected pregnant women. Intriguingly, the high CCL2 level and its inverse correlation with CD163, TNFRSF1A, and CCL22 levels was apparently associated with ZIKV-induced abnormal birth. CONCLUSION. Our findings provide insights into the alteration of ZIKV-elicited maternal immunity, serving as a potential clinical biomarker platform. FUNDING. NIH (CA200422, CA180779, DE023926, AI073099, AI116585, AI129496, AI140705, AI069120, AI056154, AI078389, AI28697, AI40718 and AI129534-01), Hastings Foundation, Fletcher Jones Foundation, Departamento de Ciência e Tecnologia (DECIT/25000.072811/2016-17) do Ministério da Saúde do Brasil, and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior CAPES/88887.116627/2016-01.
Suan-Sin Foo, Weiqiang Chen, Yen Chan, Wai-Suet Lee, Shin-Ae Lee, Genhong Cheng, Karin Nielsen-Saines, Patrícia Brasil, Jae U. Jung
BACKGROUND. Resting brain connectivity is a crucial component of human behavior demonstrated by disruptions in psychosexual and emotional disorders. Kisspeptin, a recently identified critical reproductive hormone, can alter activity in certain brain structures but its effects on resting brain connectivity and networks in humans remain elusive. METHODS. We determined the effects of kisspeptin on resting brain connectivity (using functional neuroimaging) and behavior (using psychometric analyses) in healthy men, in a randomized double-blinded 2-way placebo-controlled study. RESULTS. Kisspeptin’s modulation of the default mode network (DMN) correlated with increased limbic activity in response to sexual stimuli (globus pallidus r = 0.500, P = 0.005; cingulate r = 0.475, P = 0.009). Furthermore, kisspeptin’s DMN modulation was greater in men with less reward drive (r = –0.489, P = 0.008) and predicted reduced sexual aversion (r = –0.499, P = 0.006), providing key functional significance. Kisspeptin also enhanced key mood connections including between the amygdala-cingulate, hippocampus-cingulate, and hippocampus–globus pallidus (all P < 0.05). Consistent with this, kisspeptin’s enhancement of hippocampus–globus pallidus connectivity predicted increased responses to negative stimuli in limbic structures (including the thalamus and cingulate [all P < 0.01]). CONCLUSION. Taken together, our data demonstrate a previously unknown role for kisspeptin in the modulation of functional brain connectivity and networks, integrating these with reproductive hormones and behaviors. Our findings that kisspeptin modulates resting brain connectivity to enhance sexual and emotional processing and decrease sexual aversion, provide foundation for kisspeptin-based therapies for associated disorders of body and mind. FUNDING. NIHR, MRC, and Wellcome Trust.
Alexander N. Comninos, Lysia Demetriou, Matthew B. Wall, Amar J. Shah, Sophie A. Clarke, Shakunthala Narayanaswamy, Alexander Nesbitt, Chioma Izzi-Engbeaya, Julia K. Prague, Ali Abbara, Risheka Ratnasabapathy, Lisa Yang, Victoria Salem, Gurjinder M. Nijher, Channa N. Jayasena, Mark Tanner, Paul Bassett, Amrish Mehta, John McGonigle, Eugenii A. Rabiner, Stephen R. Bloom, Waljit S. Dhillo
Copeptin, a marker of arginine vasopressin (AVP) secretion, is elevated throughout human pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia (PE), and AVP infusion throughout gestation is sufficient to induce the major phenotypes of PE in mice. Thus, we hypothesized a role for AVP in the pathogenesis of PE. AVP infusion into pregnant C57BL/6J mice resulted in hypertension, renal glomerular endotheliosis, intrauterine growth restriction, decreased placental growth factor (PGF), altered placental morphology, placental oxidative stress, and placental gene expression consistent with human PE. Interestingly, these changes occurred despite a lack of placental hypoxia or elevations in placental fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (FLT1). Coinfusion of AVP receptor antagonists and time-restricted infusion of AVP uncovered a mid-gestational role for the AVPR1A receptor in the observed renal pathologies, versus mid- and late-gestational roles for the AVPR2 receptor in the blood pressure and fetal phenotypes. These findings demonstrate that AVP is sufficient to initiate phenotypes of PE in the absence of placental hypoxia, and indicate that AVP may mechanistically (independently, and possibly synergistically with hypoxia) contribute to the development of clinical signs of PE in specific subtypes of human PE. Additionally, they identify divergent and gestational time-specific signaling mechanisms that mediate the development of PE phenotypes in response to AVP.
Jeremy A. Sandgren, Guorui Deng, Danny W. Linggonegoro, Sabrina M. Scroggins, Katherine J. Perschbacher, Anand R. Nair, Taryn E. Nishimura, Shao Yang Zhang, Larry N. Agbor, Jing Wu, Henry L. Keen, Meghan C. Naber, Nicole A. Pearson, Kathy A. Zimmerman, Robert M. Weiss, Noelle C. Bowdler, Yuriy M. Usachev, Donna A. Santillan, Matthew J. Potthoff, Gary L. Pierce, Katherine N. Gibson-Corley, Curt D. Sigmund, Mark K. Santillan, Justin L. Grobe
Ion channel-controlled cell volume regulation is of fundamental significance to the physiological function of sperm. In addition to volume regulation, LRRC8A-dependent volume-regulated anion channel (VRAC) activity is involved in cell cycle progression, insulin signaling, and cisplatin resistance. Nevertheless, the contribution of LRRC8A and its dependent VRAC activity in the germ cell lineage remain unknown. By utilizing a spontaneous Lrrc8a mouse mutation (c.1325delTG, p.F443*) and genetically engineered mouse models, we demonstrate that LRRC8A-dependent VRAC activity is essential for male germ cell development and fertility. Lrrc8a-null male germ cells undergo progressive degeneration independent of the apoptotic pathway during postnatal testicular development. Lrrc8a-deficient mouse sperm exhibit multiple morphological abnormalities of the flagella (MMAF), a feature commonly observed in the sperm of infertile human patients. Importantly, we identified a human patient with a rare LRRC8A hypomorphic mutation (c.1634G>A, p.Arg545His) possibly linked to Sertoli cell–only syndrome (SCOS), a male sterility disorder characterized by the loss of germ cells. Thus, LRRC8A is a critical factor required for germ cell development and volume regulation in the mouse, and it might serve as a novel diagnostic and therapeutic target for SCOS patients.
Jianqiang Bao, Carlos J. Perez, Jeesun Kim, Huan Zhang, Caitlin J. Murphy, Tewfik Hamidi, Jean Jaubert, Craig D. Platt, Janet Chou, Meichun Deng, Meng-Hua Zhou, Yuying Huang, Héctor Gaitán-Peñas, Jean-Louis Guénet, Kevin Lin, Yue Lu, Taiping Chen, Mark T. Bedford, Sharon Y.R. Dent, John H. Richburg, Raúl Estévez, Hui-Lin Pan, Raif S. Geha, Qinghua Shi, Fernando Benavides
Preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction (FGR) are major causes of the more than 5 million perinatal and infant deaths occurring globally each year, and both are associated with placental dysfunction. The risk of perinatal and infant death is greater in males, but the mechanisms are unclear. We studied data and biological samples from the Pregnancy Outcome Prediction (POP) study, a prospective cohort study that followed 4,212 women having first pregnancies from their dating ultrasound scan through delivery. We tested the hypothesis that fetal sex would be associated with altered placental function using multiomic and targeted analyses. We found that spermine synthase (SMS) escapes X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) in the placenta and is expressed at lower levels in male primary trophoblast cells, and male cells were more sensitive to polyamine depletion. The spermine metabolite N1,N12-diacetylspermine (DiAcSpm) was higher in the female placenta and in the serum of women pregnant with a female fetus. Higher maternal serum levels of DiAcSpm increased the risk of preeclampsia but decreased the risk of FGR. To our knowledge, DiAcSpm is the first maternal biomarker to demonstrate opposite associations with preeclampsia and FGR, and this is the first evidence to implicate polyamine metabolism in sex-related differences in placentally related complications of human pregnancy.
Sungsam Gong, Ulla Sovio, Irving L.M.H. Aye, Francesca Gaccioli, Justyna Dopierala, Michelle D. Johnson, Angela M. Wood, Emma Cook, Benjamin J. Jenkins, Albert Koulman, Robert A. Casero Jr., Miguel Constância, D. Stephen Charnock-Jones, Gordon C.S. Smith
We present a new technique to fully automate the segmentation of an organ from 3D ultrasound (3D-US) volumes, using the placenta as the target organ. Image analysis tools to estimate organ volume do exist but are too time consuming and operator dependant. Fully automating the segmentation process would potentially allow the use of placental volume to screen for increased risk of pregnancy complications. The placenta was segmented from 2,393 first trimester 3D-US volumes using a semiautomated technique. This was quality controlled by three operators to produce the “ground-truth” data set. A fully convolutional neural network (OxNNet) was trained using this ground-truth data set to automatically segment the placenta. OxNNet delivered state-of-the-art automatic segmentation. The effect of training set size on the performance of OxNNet demonstrated the need for large data sets. The clinical utility of placental volume was tested by looking at predictions of small-for-gestational-age babies at term. The receiver-operating characteristics curves demonstrated almost identical results between OxNNet and the ground-truth). Our results demonstrated good similarity to the ground-truth and almost identical clinical results for the prediction of SGA.
Pádraig Looney, Gordon N. Stevenson, Kypros H. Nicolaides, Walter Plasencia, Malid Molloholli, Stavros Natsis, Sally L. Collins
BACKGROUND. The neuropeptide kisspeptin stimulates luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion in healthy adults but not in adults with idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. We hypothesized that, in children presenting with delayed or stalled puberty, kisspeptin would elicit LH secretion in those children found on detailed nighttime neuroendocrine profiling to have evidence of emerging reproductive endocrine function. METHODS. Eleven boys and four girls were admitted overnight to assess LH secretion at baseline, after a single intravenous bolus of kisspeptin, and after a single intravenous bolus of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). Subjects then received exogenous pulsatile GnRH for 6 days and returned for a second visit to measure responses to kisspeptin and GnRH after this pituitary “priming.” Responses to kisspeptin and GnRH were also measured in 5 healthy men. RESULTS. Of the 15 children with delayed/stalled puberty, 6 exhibited at least one spontaneous LH pulse overnight; all of these subjects had clear responses to kisspeptin, as did one additional subject. Seven subjects had no response to kisspeptin, and one subject exhibited an intermediate response. In the children who responded to kisspeptin, the responses had features comparable to those of adult men. CONCLUSION. In this first report of kisspeptin administration to pediatric subjects to our knowledge, children with delayed/stalled puberty showed a wide range of responses, with some showing a robust response and others showing little to no response. Further follow-up will determine whether responses to kisspeptin predict future pubertal entry for children with delayed puberty. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01438034 and NCT01952782. FUNDING. NIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD043341, R01 HD090071, P50 HD028138), NIH National Center for Advancing Translational (UL1 TR001102), NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (T32 DK007028), the Massachusetts General Hospital Executive Committee on Research Fund for Medical Discovery, Harvard Catalyst, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (award 2013110), Charles H. Hood Foundation, Robert and Laura Reynolds MGH Research Scholar Program, and Harvard University. These funding sources had no role in the design of this study and did not have any role in conducting the study, analyses, interpretation of the data, or the decision to submit results.
Yee-Ming Chan, Margaret F. Lippincott, Temitope O. Kusa, Stephanie B. Seminara
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