Gene expression of placental hormones regulating energy balance in small for gestational age neonates.Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2009; 142(1):38-42EJ
Fetal growth restriction is associated with an increased risk for metabolic and cardiovascular disease in later life. To further elucidate mechanisms that might be involved in the process of prenatal programming, we measured the adipokines leptin, resistin, and adiponectin and the GH-releasing hormone ghrelin in the placenta of small for gestational age (SGA) neonates.
The control group included 24 placentas of appropriate for gestational age (AGA) newborns, in the study group were 16 placentas of SGA neonates. Gene expression of leptin, resistin, adiponectin, and ghrelin was examined. For hormones showing alterations in gene regulation placental protein expression was measured by Western blot.
Placental mRNA expression of leptin was significantly increased in SGA placentas (p=0.0035, related to beta-actin). Protein concentration was increased, as well. There were no differences in placental resistin, adiponectin, or ghrelin gene expressions between SGA neonates and controls. Leptin was the only hormone to demonstrate a significant inverse correlation with birth weight (r=-0.44, p=0.01). Adiponectin correlated significantly with leptin (r=0.53, p=0.0023) and ghrelin (r=0.50, p=0.0045).
Placental leptin gene expression and protein concentration showed the expected increase in the SGA group. Leptin was inversely correlated with birth weight. Positive correlation of adiponectin with leptin and ghrelin expression suggests an interaction between these hormones in the placenta. However, the unchanged expression of resistin, adiponectin, and ghrelin in SGA placentas and the absence of correlation with birth weight cast doubt whether these hormones produced in the placenta play a key role in fetal programming.