This thesis will be organized into two chapters discussing the placental expression of two proteins, pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) and heat shock protein 27 (HSP 27), in human placentas. Understanding the mechanisms of placental metabolism in healthy and diseased placentas helps us understand how placenta disorders occur and how we can treat these disorders. The goal is to investigate these proteins to gain an understanding of their roles in placental disorders and help decrease maternal and fetal mortality rates. Chapter one covers the background of pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) in cancer and embryonic tissues, and the expression of PKM2 in the human placenta. Cancer PKM2 has been studied extensively, but little is know about the role of placental PKM2. Expression of PKM2 is confirmed in normal human placenta samples and described in preeclamptic and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) affected human placentas. Proteins associated with elevated PKM2 in cancer are also associated with elevated PKM2 in human placentas. Comparing normal and diseased placenta samples helps understand the similarities between cancer PKM2 and placental PKM2. Understanding the mechanisms of placental metabolism and PKM2 expression in the human placenta will clarify how the placenta is affected by preeclampsia and IUGR and the role placental PKM2 plays in each of these diseases. Chapter two will cover a paper that I wrote on the expression of phosphorylated heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) in the human placenta. Heat shock proteins are involved in the stress response and help inhibit apoptosis. The object of the study was to look for correlations between p-HSP27 and apoptosis in human and ovine placenta samples. P-HSP27 was quantified in human placenta samples and in placenta sampled collected from ovine models. Pregnant control and hyperthermic sheep models were used to quantify expression of p-HSP27 across gestation. This study showed similarities between human IUGR and our ovine IUGR model, suggesting a link between decreased p-HSP27 and increased apoptosis in IUGR.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Physiology and Developmental Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





placenta, pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2), preeclampsia (PE), intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), metabolism