The purpose of this research project was to elucidate the molecular interactions and detail the signaling pathways in obstetric pathologies. This work first seeks to understand inflammation related complications relevant to obstetrics. Prior research in our lab identified the implications of the receptor of advanced glycation end products (RAGE) during inflammatory response in the placenta. Current work identified the presence of DNA double-strand breaks (DNA-DSBs) in inflammation associated pregnancy complications of preeclampsia (PE) and preterm labor (PTL) and demonstrated the positive role of RAGE in repairing the damage. The confluent relevance of disrupted mitochondrial function and inflammation has been recognized in the etiology of numerous chronic diseases. Our current studies aim to understand the connections between energy metabolism and inflammation in pathologies of pregnancy complications. Previous research conducted in our laboratory has demonstrated the mediation of the Gas6/Axl pathway on the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), an important metabolic molecule. We observed the negative regulation of Gas6 treatment on the mTOR pathway and its negative effects on trophoblast cell invasion. In the current study looking at the aspect of energy regulation, we identified the activation of placental mTOR in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and its decrease during PE and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). We further evaluated the regulation of mTOR on its downstream effector pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2). We found that inhibition of mTOR decreased PKM2 activation; while PKM2 activation positively regulated trophoblastic invasion and rescued negative effects observed in our second-hand smoke IUGR murine model. Our work has opened a new direction of placental research, especially in pregnancy complications stemming from genomic instability. We also clarified details of mTOR and PKM2 meditated metabolic signaling that are crucial for future investigation on the dynamic metabolic regulation during pregnancy.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Physiology and Developmental Biology



Date Submitted


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RAGE, DNA-DSB, mTOR, PKM2, preeclampsia, preterm labor, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes mellitus, placenta, pregnancy trophoblast



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Life Sciences Commons