Colorado PROFILES, The Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI)
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Adiponectin regulates nutrient transport in the placenta

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Obesity is a costly and wide-spread condition with a clear intergenerational transmission. More than 50% of women enter pregnancy overweight or obese and are more likely to deliver large babies who are at higher risk to develop obesity and metabolic syndrome early in life. The mechanisms whereby maternal adiposity increases fetal growth rates are unknown but an increased nutrient delivery across the placenta is essential to support the accelerated growth rate. Our long-term goal is to understand regulation of placental nutrient transport in human pregnancy in order to design strategies for prevention and therapy in pregnancies with altered fetal growth. The objective of this R03 application is to determine the role of adiponectin in regulating placental nutrient transport. No data exists on the role of adiponectin in modulating placental nutrient transport or insulin sensitivity. The placenta produces adiponectin and its receptors are localized in the maternal facing surface of the syncytiotrophoblast. Also, adiponectin infusion into pregnant rats caused a decrease in glucose transporter 3 and lipoprotein lipase (LPL) mRNA expression. Our central hypothesis is that adiponectin down-regulates the activity and expression of placental lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and glucose and amino acid transporters both directly and by affecting insulin signaling. The rationale for this R03 proposal is that, understanding the role of adiponectin in the regulation of placental nutrient transporters will enable subsequent mechanistic studies at the R01 level. We have defined two specific aims to validate the central hypothesis: 1) Determine the direct effects of adiponectin on placental nutrient transporters and 2) Identify effects of adiponectin on insulin-stimulated placental nutrient transport. Our working hypotheses are that adiponectin down-regulates the activity and expression of placental LPL, glucose and amino acid transporters by inhibition of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and inhibits insulin-stimulated placental System A mediated amino acid transport by decreasing tyrosine phosphorylation of the insulin receptor (IR) and insulin-receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1). This will be tested by incubating cultured primary trophboblast cells in varying concentrations of adiponectin, in the presence and absence of physiological concentrations of insulin, and measure the activity, gene and protein expression of LPL, glucose and amino acid transporters ( Systems A and L). This research is innovative because we propose a model where adiponectin decreases insulin sensitivity and down-regulates nutrient transporters in the placenta, in contrast to its'effects in maternal peripheral tissue. If this model proves to be correct, it could explain in part the increased nutrient delivery to the fetus and fetal overgrowth in pregnancies characterized by low maternal adiponectin. The expected outcome of the proposed research is that it will produce results that will provide a solid foundation for a subsequent, mechanistic R01 application. The proposed studies are relevant to public health because they address a costly and wide spread condition, obesity. Obese women have larger babies and these babies have an increased risk of developing obesity and metabolic syndrome early in life. The studies in this proposal will provide preliminary data to address the mechanisms whereby maternal obesity leads to increased birth weight. Specifically, we will test the hypothesis that low blood concentrations of the hormone adiponectin in obese pregnant women increase the capacity of the placenta to transport nutrients to the fetus, thereby stimulating fetal growth. This research may lead to the development of intervention strategies to reduce birth weight in pregnancies of obese women, which will reduce the susceptibility to obesity in the next generation.

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