Syncytialization and prolonged exposure to palmitate impacts BeWo respiration

in Reproduction
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  • 1 Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  • 2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  • 3 Children’s Health Research Institute, London, Ontario, Canada
  • 4 Lawson Health Research Institute, London, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence should be addressed to T R H Regnault; Email: tim.regnault@uwo.ca
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Placental villous trophoblast mitochondrial respiratory function is critical for a successful pregnancy and environmental influences such as maternal obesity have been associated with respiratory impairment at term. More recently, a gestational high fat diet independent of maternal body composition, has been highlighted as a potential independent regulator of placental mitochondrial metabolism. The current study aimed to characterize the direct impact of a prolonged and isolated exposure to the dietary fatty acids Palmitate (PA) and Oleate (OA) upon placental cell mitochondrial respiratory function. BeWo cytotrophoblast (CT) and syncytiotrophoblast (SCT) cells were treated for 72 h with 100 µM PA, OA or PA+OA (P/O). Live-cell metabolic function was analyzed via the Seahorse XF Mito and Glycolysis Stress tests. Immunoblots and spectrophotometric activity assays were utilized to examine the protein expression and function of electron transport chain (ETC) complexes and key mitochondrial regulatory enzymes. Syncytialization of BeWo cells resulted reduced respiratory activity in conjunction with altered complex I and II activity and decreased pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) protein expression and activity. PA and P/O treatments were associated with increased basal and maximal respiratory activities in BeWo CT cells without alterations in protein expression or activity of individual ETC complexes and mitochondrial substrate regulators. The metabolic suppression in BeWo SCTs was consistent with that previously observed in primary human trophoblast cell cultures, while the observed increases in respiratory activity in PA-treated BeWo CTs may be indicative of an early timepoint of specific dietary saturated fat-mediated placental cell mitochondrial dysfunction.

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