University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California
Survival of the eutherian embryo/fetus depends on formation of a transient but vital organ, the placenta. Placenta-tion is the first test of the differentiative and organogenic capacity of the conceptus. During this process, the placenta's specialized cells, termed trophoblasts, acquire many unusual properties. For example, one population of mono-nuclear cells, termed cytotrophoblasts (CTBs), deeply invades the uterine wall. Invasion accomplishes two critical goals: attaching the embryo to the uterus, and diverting maternal blood flow to the placenta, thus enabling effective gas, nutrient, and waste exchange. The molecular underpinnings of this complex process require the precise coordination of intricately timed differentiation programs executed by both placental and uterine cells (for reviews, see Refs. [1, 2]). This chapter focuses on the profound changes in tro-phoblast phenotype that occur during CTB invasion of the uterus. Data gathered from the studies we review point to the central importance of molecules that control the intimate relationship that develops between fetal CTBs and the maternal vasculature. These findings have important implications for understanding mechanisms of placentation and point to possible therapeutic strategies for remodeling other vascular beds.
Was this article helpful?
This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.