While the human placenta must provide selected long-chain fatty acids to support the developing fetal brain, little is known about the mechanisms underlying the transport process. We tracked the movement of the fluorescently labeled long-chain fatty acid analogue, BODIPY-C12, across the cell layers of living explants of human term placenta. Although all layers took up the fatty acid, rapid esterification of long-chain fatty acids and incorporation into lipid droplets was exclusive to the inner layer cytotrophoblast cells rather than the expected outer syncytiotrophoblast layer. Cytotrophoblast is a progenitor cell layer previously relegated to a repair role. As isolated cytotrophoblasts differentiated into syncytialized cells in culture, they weakened their lipid processing capacity. Syncytializing cells suppress previously active genes that regulate fatty-acid uptake (SLC27A2/FATP2, FABP4, ACSL5) and lipid metabolism (GPAT3, LPCAT3). We speculate that cytotrophoblast performs a previously unrecognized role in regulating placental fatty acid uptake and metabolism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)