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    Cadmium (Cd), an environmental toxicant, is positively associated with fetal growth restriction (FGR). However, the mechanism by which gestational exposure to Cd induces FGR remains unclear. This study designed in vitro and in vivo experiments to explore the role of placental mitophagy in Cd-impaired fetal growth. Based on our case-control study, we also investigated the association of placental mitophagy with reduced progesterone (P4) level and all-cause FGR. We firstly found environmental Cd exposure lowered the P4 content in maternal sera, placentae and amnioticfluids of mice. The level of three mitochondrial P4 synthases, including StAR, CYP11A1 and 3β-HSD, was also reduced in Cd-treated placentae. Furthermore, Cd triggered mitophagy, as determined by the degradation of two mitochondrial proteins HSP60 and COX IV, and the accumulation of co-localizations of TOM20 with LC3B or Parkin in placental trophoblasts. Correspondingly, Cd elevated mitochondrial Parkin level in placental trophoblasts. Mdivi-1, a mitophagy inhibitor, obviously attenuated Cd-induced reduction of placental P4 and FGR in mice. Moreover, mdivi-1 and Parkin siRNA (siR) markedly reversed Cd-caused P4 synthesis inhibition in human placental trophoblasts. Interestedly, the PERK/ATF4 signaling was activated in Cd-stimulated placental trophoblasts. PERK siR inhibited mitochondrial proteins degradation in Cd-stimulated placental trophoblasts. In particularly, mitophagy activation and P4 synthesis suppression occurred in small-for-gestational-age placentae based on our case-control study. Environmental Cd exposure induced FGR via activating PERK-regulated mitophagy and inhibiting P4 synthesis in placentaltrophoblasts. Furthermore, placental mitophagy was related to the reduced progesterone level and all-cause fetal growth restriction based on our case-control study. As above, placental mitophagy maybe the common mechanism of environmental toxicants-impaired fetal growth. Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


    Hua-Long Zhu, Xue-Ting Shi, Xiao-Feng Xu, Yong-Wei Xiong, Song-Jia Yi, Guo-Xiang Zhou, Wei-Bo Liu, Miao-Miao Huang, Lan Gao, Cheng Zhang, Ling-Li Zhao, De-Xiang Xu, Hua Wang. Environmental cadmium exposure induces fetal growth restriction via triggering PERK-regulated mitophagy in placental trophoblasts. Environment international. 2021 Feb;147:106319

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    PMID: 33348103

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