Placental Regulation of Energy Homeostasis during Human Pregnancy

Brooke Armistead, Eugenia Johnson, Robert Vanderkamp, Elzbieta Kula-Eversole, Leena Kadam, Sascha Drewlo, Hamid Reza Kohan-Ghadr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Successful pregnancies rely on sufficient energy and nutrient supply, which require the mother to metabolically adapt to support fetal needs. The placenta has a critical role in this process, as this specialized organ produces hormones and peptides that regulate fetal and maternal metabolism. The ability for the mother to metabolically adapt to support the fetus depends on maternal prepregnancy health. Two-thirds of pregnancies in the United States involve obese or overweight women at the time of conception. This poses significant risks for the infant and mother by disrupting metabolic changes that would normally occur during pregnancy. Despite well characterized functions of placental hormones, there is scarce knowledge surrounding placental endocrine regulation of maternal metabolic trends in pathological pregnancies. In this review, we discuss current efforts to close this gap of knowledge and highlight areas where more research is needed. As the intrauterine environment predetermines the health and wellbeing of the offspring in later life, adequate metabolic control is essential for a successful pregnancy outcome. Understanding how placental hormones contribute to aberrant metabolic adaptations in pathological pregnancies may unveil disease mechanisms and provide methods for better identification and treatment. Studies discussed in this review were identified through PubMed searches between the years of 1966 to the present. We investigated studies of normal pregnancy and metabolic disorders in pregnancy that focused on energy requirements during pregnancy, endocrine regulation of glucose metabolism and insulin resistance, cholesterol and lipid metabolism, and placental hormone regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbqaa076
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 18 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • energy homeostasis
  • gestational diabetes
  • metabolism
  • placenta
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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