(ORDO NEWS) — About 10-15 percent of children grow poorly in the womb, which can affect a number of pathologies. These babies are often low birth weight, are more likely to get sick and even die in infancy.
And as adults, they are at high risk of developing diabetes and heart problems. Scientists from the University of Cambridge (UK) conducted a study on GMO mice to learn more about this pathology. They presented their findings in the Developmental Cell journal .
Researchers have learned details about the way the fetus communicates with the placenta in order to stimulate proper expansion of its blood vessels, and therefore the supply of nutrients to it.
The fetus sends a signal known as IGF2 to reach the placenta through the umbilical cord. The IGF2 level in the umbilical cord increased between the 29th week of pregnancy and the day of birth . Too much IGF2 is associated with accelerated fetal growth, too little IGF2 is associated with slow fetal growth.
Scientists have known for a long time that IGF2 is associated with fetal growth. The innovation of the research of British specialists is that they have shown that IGF2 acts as a classic hormone – it is produced by the fetus, enters the umbilical cord and the placenta. In addition, the findings of scientists indicate a “struggle” in the womb. We are talking about paternal and maternal genes, “conflicting” with each other.
The father’s gene governs the fetus’s needs for large blood vessels, while another type of mother’s gene in the placenta tries to control how much food she provides. There is a kind of tug of war, a “battle” of the sexes at the genome level.
The study was conducted in mice, as their genes can be manipulated to mimic different developmental conditions. This allows you to study in detail all sorts of mechanisms occurring in the fetus and placenta. But the physiology and biology of mice have a lot in common with the physiology and biology of humans, which allows scientists to simulate pregnancy in humans.
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