Placental-specific insulin-like growth factor 2 (Igf2) regulates the diffusional exchange characteristics of the mouse placenta

C. P. Sibley, P. M. Coan, A. C. Ferguson-Smith, W. Dean, J. Hughes, P. Smith, W. Reik, G. J. Burton, A. L. Fowden, M. Constância

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    Restricted fetal growth is associated with postnatal mortality and morbidity and may be directly related to alterations in the capacity of the placenta to supply nutrients. We proposed previously that imprinted genes can regulate nutrient supply by the placenta. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the insulin-like growth factor 2 gene (Igf2) transcribed from the placental-specific promoter (P0) regulates the development of the diffusional permeability properties of the mouse placenta. Using mice in which placental-specific Igf2 had been deleted (P0), we measured the transfer in vivo of three inert hydrophilic solutes of increasing size (14C-mannitol, 51CrEDTA, and 14C-inulin). At embryonic day 19, placental and fetal weights in P0 conceptuses were reduced to 66% and 76%, respectively, of wild type. In P0 mutants, the permeability-surface area product for the tracers at this stage of development was 68% of that of controls; this effect was independent of tracer size. Stereological analysis of histological sections revealed the surface area of the exchange barrier in the labyrinth of the mouse placenta to be reduced and thickness increased in P0 fetuses compared to wild type. As a result, the average theoretical diffusing capacity in P0 knockout placentas was dramatically reduced to 40% of that of wild-type placentas. These data show that placental Igf2 regulates the development of the diffusional exchange characteristics of the mouse placenta. This provides a mechanism for the role of imprinted genes in controlling placental nutrient supply and fetal growth. Altered placental Igf2 could be a cause of idiopathic intrauterine growth restriction in the human.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)8204-8208
    Number of pages4
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number21
    Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2004


    • Animals
    • Diffusion
    • Gene Deletion
    • deficiency: Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
    • Mice
    • Mice, Knockout
    • Organ Specificity
    • Permeability
    • metabolism: Placenta
    • genetics: Promoter Regions (Genetics)
    • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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