Talk:Endocrine - Placenta Development

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, April 19) Embryology Endocrine - Placenta Development. Retrieved from


Expression of steroidogenic enzymes in human placenta according to the gestational age

Mol Med Rep. 2019 May;19(5):3903-3911. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2019.10048. Epub 2019 Mar 15.

Hong SH1, Kim SC2, Park MN1, Jeong JS1, Yang SY1, Lee YJ2, Bae ON3, Yang HS4, Seo S1, Lee KS2, An BS1.

Female sex steroid hormones, including estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4), serve significant physiological roles in pregnancy. In particular, E2 and P4 influence placenta formation, maintain pregnancy and stimulate milk production. These hormones are produced by ovaries, adrenal glands and the placenta, of which the latter is a major endocrine organ during pregnancy. However, the mechanism of hormone production during pregnancy remains unclear. In the present study, the regulation of steroid hormones and steroidogenic enzymes was examined in human placenta according to gestational age. In human placental tissues, expression levels of steroidogenic enzymes were determined with reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blotting. The mRNA and protein expression of CYP17A1, HSD17B3 and CYP19A1, which are associated with the synthesis of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and E2, was elevated at different gestational ages in human placenta. In addition, to evaluate the correlation between serum and placental‑produced hormones, steroid hormone levels, including pregnenolone (PG), DHEA, P4, testosterone (T) and E2, were examined in serum and placenta. Serum and placenta expression of DHEA and E2 increased with gestational age, whereas T and P4 were differently regulated in placenta and serum. To confirm the mechanism of steroidogenesis in vitro, placental BeWo cells were treated with E2 and P4, which are the most important hormones during pregnancy. The mRNA and protein expression of steroidogenic enzymes was significantly altered by E2 in vitro. These results demonstrated that concentration of steroid hormones was differently regulated by steroidogenic enzymes in the placenta depending on the type of the hormones, which may be critical to maintain pregnancy. PMID: 30896833 DOI: 10.3892/mmr.2019.10048

  • Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) - like leutenizing hormone, supports corpus luteum in ovary, pregnant state rather than menstrual, maternal urine in some pregnancy testing
  • Human chorionic somatommotropin (hCS) - or placental lactogen stimulate (maternal) mammary development
  • Human chorionic thyrotropin (hCT)
  • Human chorionic corticotropin (hCACTH)
  • progesterone and estrogens - support maternal endometrium
  • Relaxin
  • Placenta - Maternal (decidua) and Fetal (trophoblastic cells, extraembryonic mesoderm) components
  • Endocrine function - maternal and fetal precursors, synthesis and secretion
    • Protein Hormones - chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), chorionic somatomammotropin (hCS) or placental lactogen (hPL), chorionic thyrotropin (hCT), chorionic corticotropin (hCACTH)
      • hCG - up to 20 weeks, fetal adrenal cortex growth and maintenance
      • hCS – rise through pregnancy, stimulates maternal metabolic processes, breast growth
    • Steroid Hormones - progesterone (maintains pregnancy), estrogens (fetal adrenal/placenta)


The endocrine function of human placenta: an overview

Reprod Biomed Online. 2016 Jan;32(1):14-43. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2015.10.005. Epub 2015 Oct 27.

Costa MA1.


During pregnancy, several tightly coordinated and regulated processes take place to enable proper fetal development and gestational success. The formation and development of the placenta is one of these critical pregnancy events. This organ plays essential roles during gestation, including fetal nourishment, support and protection, gas exchange and production of several hormones and other mediators. Placental hormones are mainly secreted by the syncytiotrophoblast, in a highly and tightly regulated way. These hormones are important for pregnancy establishment and maintenance, exerting autocrine and paracrine effects that regulate decidualization, placental development, angiogenesis, endometrial receptivity, embryo implantation, immunotolerance and fetal development. In addition, because they are released into maternal circulation, the profile of their blood levels throughout pregnancy has been the target of intense research towards finding potential robust and reliable biomarkers to predict and diagnose pregnancy-associated complications. In fact, altered levels of these hormones have been associated with some pathologies, such as chromosomal anomalies or pre-eclampsia. This review proposes to revise and update the main pregnancy-related hormones, addressing their major characteristics, molecular targets, function throughout pregnancy, regulators of their expression and their potential clinical interest. Copyright © 2015 Reproductive Healthcare Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS: placental hormones, peptide hormones, pregnancy, steroid hormones, syncytiotrophoblast PMID 26615903 DOI: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2015.10.005

The feto-placental unit, and potential roles of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in prenatal and postnatal brain development: A re-examination using the spiny mouse

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2016 Jun;160:204-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2015.09.044. Epub 2015 Oct 17.

Quinn TA1, Ratnayake U2, Dickinson H1, Castillo-Melendez M3, Walker DW4.


Synthesis of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) by the fetal adrenal gland is important for placental oestrogen production, and may also be important for modulating the effects of glucocorticoids on the developing brain. We have preciously shown that the enzymes and accessory proteins needed for DHEA synthesis-cytochrome P450 enzyme 17α-hydroxylase/17,20 lyase (P450c17), cytochrome-b5 (Cytb5), 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3βHSD)-are expressed in the adrenal gland from 30 days gestation, and DHEA, cortisol and aldosterone are present in fetal plasma from this time. Explant culture of fetal adrenal tissue showed that the spiny mouse adrenal gland, can synthesize and secrete DHEA from at least 0.75 of gestation, and suggest that DHEA may have an important role(s) in placental biosynthesis of oestrogens and in modulating the actions of glucocorticoids in the developing brain in this species. Post-natally, increased immuno-expression of P450c17 and Cytb5 expression in the zona reticularis of the adrenal gland and a significant increase in the synthesis and secretion of DHEA in plasma from 8 to 20 days of age in the spiny mouse, are representative of a period of high adrenal androgen production consistent with the human phenomenon of adrenarche. The studies summarised in this review also show that DHEA is produced de novo in the developing brain of the spiny mouse. These results showed that the spiny mouse brain can indeed produce DHEA from pregnenolone in a time-dependant manner, and coupled with the identification of P450c17 and Cytb5 protein in several regions of the brain, support the idea that DHEA is an endogenous neuro-active steroid in this species. Together, the studies outlined in this review indicate that the androgen DHEA is an important hormone of adrenal and Central Nervous System (CNS) origin in the fetal and postnatal spiny mouse. Disturbance of the development of these fetal tissues, and/or of the relationship between the fetal adrenal gland and placenta during pregnancy, may have significant consequences for fetal development, placental function, and maturation of the brain. It is proposed that such disturbances of normal adrenal function could account for some of the neuropathologies that arise in juvenile and adult offspring following illness and stress experienced by the mother during pregnancy. Crown Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS: Adrenal gland; Brain; Cytochrome b5; DHEA; Estrogen; Feto-placental unit; Fetus; Glucocorticoid receptor; Glucocorticoids; P450c17; Primates; Spiny mouse

PMID 26485665 DOI: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2015.09.044


Endocrine factors modulating immune responses in pregnancy

Front Immunol. 2014 May 8;5:196. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2014.00196. eCollection 2014.

Schumacher A1, Costa SD2, Zenclussen AC1.


How the semi-allogeneic fetus is tolerated by the maternal immune system remains a fascinating phenomenon. Despite extensive research activity in this field, the mechanisms underlying fetal tolerance are still not well understood. However, there are growing evidences that immune-immune interactions as well as immune-endocrine interactions build up a complex network of immune regulation that ensures fetal survival within the maternal uterus. In the present review, we aim to summarize emerging research data from our and other laboratories on immune modulating properties of pregnancy hormones with a special focus on progesterone, estradiol, and human chorionic gonadotropin. These pregnancy hormones are critically involved in the successful establishment, maintenance, and termination of pregnancy. They suppress detrimental maternal alloresponses while promoting tolerance pathways. This includes the reduction of the antigen-presenting capacity of dendritic cells (DCs), monocytes, and macrophages as well as the blockage of natural killer cells, T and B cells. Pregnancy hormones also support the proliferation of pregnancy supporting uterine killer cells, retain tolerogenic DCs, and efficiently induce regulatory T (Treg) cells. Furthermore, they are involved in the recruitment of mast cells and Treg cells into the fetal-maternal interface contributing to a local accumulation of pregnancy-protective cells. These findings highlight the importance of endocrine factors for the tolerance induction during pregnancy and encourage further research in the field. KEYWORDS: alpha-fetoprotein; estradiol; human chorionic gonadotropin; immune regulation; luteinizing hormone; pregnancy; progesterone

PMID 24847324


Human placenta as an endocrine organ

Growth Horm IGF Res. 2003 Aug;13 Suppl A:S34-7.

Evain-Brion D1, Malassine A.


The placenta is a unique, autonomous and transient organ. It ensures maternal-fetal exchanges and is also involved in maternal tolerance of feto-paternal antigens. The human placenta is characterized by the major invasion of the trophoblast, which comes in contact with the maternal blood, and by the intensity and the specificity of its endocrine functions. Placental hormones are required for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy, adaptation of the maternal organism to pregnancy, fetal growth and well being, and development of the mechanisms involved in parturition. The endocrine tissue of the placenta is the syncytiotrophoblast, which covers the chorionic villi, and arises from the fusion of the cytotrophoblasts. In this review we will summarize the particulars of human syncytiotrophoblast development and endocrine functions.

PMID 12914725