Disruptions in the balance between Placental Villous Trophoblast Proliferation and Apoptosis

Dr Tahera Ansari, NPIMR (£80,194.80 over 3 years)

There has been a considerable reduction in the number of infants dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) over the past decade. World wide scientific research on SIDS has highlighted a number of specific risk factors and has also pointed towards an infant born with hidden developmental vulnerability.
Disruptions in the balance between Placental Villous Trophoblast Proliferation and Apoptosis in IUGR and SIDS, and the consequences for foetal growth.

Our research has centred on events prior to birth, whilst the baby is still growing and developing inside the mother. The organ that plays the greatest role whilst a baby is developing is the placenta. This organ is responsible for the transfer of nutrients and oxygen to the baby and for the removal of waste products. Any abnormality within the placenta has the potential to adversely affect the way the baby develops.

The placenta has a unique group of cells which make up a membrane responsible for the transfer of oxygen and nutrients to the baby from the mother. The way this placental membrane develops is crucial for the healthy growth of both the placenta and the baby. Our investigation will look at how this membrane renews itself. We will analyse the balance between cells dying and reproducing in placentae from healthy infants and compare the data with data from placentae from SIDS infants. The information obtained will help us understand why SIDS infants show altered patterns of growth and development whilst inside the womb.