The Placental Secretome: Identifying Potential Cross-Talk between Placenta and Islet β-Cells

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Background/Aims: Insulin-secreting islet β-cells adapt to the insulin resistance associated with pregnancy by increasing functional β-cell mass, but the placental signals involved in this process are not well defined. In the current study, we analysed expression of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) mRNAs in mouse islets and islet GPCR ligand mRNAs in placenta during pregnancy to generate an atlas of potential interactions between the placenta and β-cells to inform future functional studies of islet adaptive responses to pregnancy. Methods: Quantative RT-PCR arrays were used to measure mRNA expression levels of: (i) 342 GPCRs in islets from non-pregnant mice, and in islets isolated from mice on gestational days 12 and 18; (ii) 126 islet GPCR ligands in mouse placenta at gestational days 12 and 18. Results: At gestational day 12, a time of rapid expansion of the β-cell mass, 189 islet GPCR mRNAs were quantifiable, while 79 of the 126 known islet GPCR ligand mRNAs were detectable in placental extracts. Approximately half of the quantifiable placental GPCR ligand genes were of unknown function in β-cells. The expression of some islet GPCR and placental ligand mRNAs varied during pregnancy, with altered expression of both GPCR and ligand mRNAs by gestational day 18. Conclusion: The current study has revealed numerous potential routes for interaction between the placenta and islets, and offers an atlas to inform further functional studies of their roles in adaptive responses to pregnancy, and in the regulation of the β-cell mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1171
Number of pages7
JournalCellular Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number3
Early online date13 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • Placental ligand
  • Pregnancy
  • ß-cell


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