Is there a sex of the placenta?

Gian Carlo Di Renzo, Elena Picchiassi, Giuliana Coata, Graziano Clerici, Eleonora Brillo

Abstract


The placenta has traditionally been considered as an asexual organ. Thus, most of the studies focusing on the placenta have not taken the sex of the embryo into account.
However, as trophoblast cells originate from the embryo, they reflect fetal sex as either XX or XY, allowing for possible sex differences in placental biochemistry, function, and signaling.
The placenta is a temporary organ performing the functions of many adult organs for the growing fetus. The placenta plays a key role in fetal growth and development, it is designed for exchange of oxygen, nutrients, antibodies, hormonal compounds and waste products between the mother and fetus and may carry significant information about the pregnancy. The placenta is considered also a major endocrine organ being responsible for synthesizing vast quantities of hormones and cytokines that have important effects on both maternal and fetal physiology.
The investigation of placenta and its functions helps to identify molecular mechanisms that have both early- and long-term effects on health of the fetus.
Gender differences were observed in the placenta at multiple levels: epigenetic modifications of DNA, gene expression, protein expression and immune function.

 

Proceedings of the 11th International Workshop on Neonatology and Satellite Meetings · Cagliari (Italy) · October 26th-31st, 2015 · From the womb to the adult
Guest Editors: Vassilios Fanos (Cagliari, Italy), Michele Mussap (Genoa, Italy), Antonio Del Vecchio (Bari, Italy), Bo Sun (Shanghai, China), Dorret I. Boomsma (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Gavino Faa (Cagliari, Italy), Antonio Giordano (Philadelphia, USA)


Keywords


placenta; sex; epigenetics; immune function; review; pregnancy; outcome

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