AMPK Knockdown in Placental Labyrinthine Progenitor Cells Results in Restriction of Critical Energy Resources and Terminal Differentiation Failure

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Placental abnormalities can cause Pregnancy-Associated Disorders, including preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, and placental insufficiency, resulting in complications for both the mother and fetus. Trophoblast cells within the labyrinthine layer of the placenta facilitate the exchange of nutrients, gases, and waste between mother and fetus; therefore, the development of this cell layer is critical for fetal development. As trophoblast cells differentiate, it is assumed their metabolism changes with their energy requirements. We hypothesize that proper regulation of trophoblast metabolism is a key component of normal placental development; therefore, we examined the role of AMP-Activated kinase (AMPK, PRKAA1/2), a sensor of cellular energy status. Our previous studies have shown that AMPK knockdown alters both trophoblast differentiation and nutrient transport. In this study, AMPKα1/2 shRNA was used to investigate the metabolic effects of AMPK knockdown on SM10 placental labyrinthine progenitor cells before and after differentiation. Extracellular flux analysis confirmed that AMPK knockdown was sufficient to reduce trophoblast glycolysis, mitochondrial respiration, and ATP coupling efficiency. A reduction in AMPK in differentiated trophoblasts also resulted in increased mitochondrial volume. These data indicate that a reduction in AMPK disrupts cellular metabolism in both progenitors and differentiated placental trophoblasts. This disruption correlates to abortive trophoblast differentiation that may contribute to the development of Pregnancy-Associated Disorders.



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