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Placental glycogen stores and fetal growth: insights from genetic mouse models, review article just publised in Reproduction

last modified Jun 05, 2020 08:46 AM

Read the full review article by authors: Simon J Tunster, Erica D Watson,   Abigail Fowden and Graham Burton here


The placenta performs a range of crucial functions that support fetal growth during pregnancy, including facilitating the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, removal of waste products from the fetus and the endocrine modulation of maternal physiology. The placenta also stores glucose in the form of glycogen, the function of which remains unknown. Aberrant placental glycogen storage in humans is associated with maternal diabetes during pregnancy and pre-eclampsia, thus linking placental glycogen storage and metabolism to pathological pregnancies. To understand the role of placental glycogen in normal and complicated pregnancies, we must turn to animal models. Over 40 targeted mutations in mice demonstrate the defects in placental cells that store glycogen and suggest that placental glycogen represents a source of readily mobilized glucose required during periods of high fetal demand. However, direct functional evidence is currently lacking. Here, we evaluate these genetic mouse models with placental phenotypes that implicate glycogen trophoblast cell differentiation and function to illuminate the common molecular pathways that emerge and to better understand the relationship between placental glycogen and fetal growth. We highlight the current limitations in exploring the key questions regarding placental glycogen storage and metabolism and define how to experimentally overcome these constraints.