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The Placental Transcriptome in Late Gestational Hypoxia Resulting in Murine Intrauterine Growth Restriction Parallels Increased Risk of Adult Cardiometabolic Disease.

  • Author(s): Chu, Alison;
  • Casero, David;
  • Thamotharan, Shanthie;
  • Wadehra, Madhuri;
  • Cosi, Amy;
  • Devaskar, Sherin U
  • et al.

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) enhances risk for adult onset cardiovascular disease (CVD). The mechanisms underlying IUGR are poorly understood, though inadequate blood flow and oxygen/nutrient provision are considered common endpoints. Based on evidence in humans linking IUGR to adult CVD, we hypothesized that in murine pregnancy, maternal late gestational hypoxia (LG-H) exposure resulting in IUGR would result in (1) placental transcriptome changes linked to risk for later CVD, and 2) adult phenotypes of CVD in the IUGR offspring. After subjecting pregnant mice to hypoxia (10.5% oxygen) from gestational day (GD) 14.5 to 18.5, we undertook RNA sequencing from GD19 placentas. Functional analysis suggested multiple changes in structural and functional genes important for placental health and function, with maximal dysregulation involving vascular and nutrient transport pathways. Concordantly, a ~10% decrease in birthweights and ~30% decrease in litter size was observed, supportive of placental insufficiency. We also found that the LG-H IUGR offspring exhibit increased risk for CVD at 4 months of age, manifesting as hypertension, increased abdominal fat, elevated leptin and total cholesterol concentrations. In summary, this animal model of IUGR links the placental transcriptional response to the stressor of gestational hypoxia to increased risk of developing cardiometabolic disease.

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