Maternal Health and Fetal Interactions

Far from being a passive organ, the placenta plays a critical role in orchestrating the sequence and intensity of a series of complex maternal–fetal interactions. In essence, the placenta is of dual origin, comprised of both fetally- and maternally derived cells. The decidua, often referred to as the maternal compartment, forms the most superficial layer surrounding the placenta and is densely packed with maternal immune cells. Below this, a layer of fetally derived trophoblast cells secretes hormones and endocrine factors that support both fetal and maternal health. Lastly, maternal bloods, descending from decidual spiral arteries, and fetal blood, rising through the umbilical arteries, converge in the villous spaces of what is known as the labyrinth layer, in mice, or the chorionic villi, in humans. Here, maternal and fetal blood flow countercurrently and are separated by two layers of fetal trophoblast cells, the syncytiotrophoblasts and the so-called mononuclear trophoblasts, in mice, or villous cytotrophoblasts, in humans.

·         Regulators of early pregnancy

·         Immune homeostasis in the uterus and pregnancy complications

·         Maternal and reproductive health

·         Fetal resource acquisition via the placenta

·         Effects of maternal obesity on fetal growth

·         Placental protection of the fetal brain during short-term food deprivation

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