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Understanding the nature and role of placental endocrine function in materno-fetal resource allocation during pregnancy

Supervisor: Dr Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri

During pregnancy, adequate nutrients must be supplied to the fetus for growth with sufficient resources also partitioned to the mother to maintain her health. The placenta is central to this as it secretes a plethora of factors which are thought to adapt maternal metabolism to favour nutrient delivery to the fetus. Failures in placental function and maternal adaptation may result in pregnancy complications including abnormal birth weight, premature delivery and maternal diabetes. Moreover, babies that are born of abnormal weight are more likely to die as neonates and/or develop metabolic disease postnatally. The overall aim of this work is to understand the nature and role of placental endocrine function in materno-fetal resource allocation during pregnancy and determine its importance for fetal growth, maternal health and offspring outcome. The proposed study will combine cell-specific genetic manipulation to selectively increase or decrease the formation of endocrine cells in the mouse placenta, with in vivo functional assays and in vitro stereological, molecular and proteomic methodologies. The overall goal of this project is to discover novel factors secreted by the placenta that regulate maternal-fetal resource allocation with a view to extend into translational studies assessing whether such factors are altered in pregnancies complicated by placental mal-function.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact me:
Email: ans48@cam.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1223 333807