Adipokines, an adipose tissue and placental product with biological functions during pregnancy

Giovanni Scambia, Nicoletta Di Simone, Silvia D'Ippolito, Chiara Tersigni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Latter half of pregnancy is characterized by a "physiological diabetogenic state" since changes in insulin-sensitivity have been well documented. These changes ensure continuous supply of nutrients to the growing fetus. In the last years the role of adipocyte-derived signaling molecules, collectively known as adipokines has been object of different in vitro and in vivo studies. Of interest, adipokines and/or their receptors are expressed in the placental tissue which, therefore, can contribute to development of maternal insulin-resistance and, as a consequence, fetal growth. Leptin, adiponectin, and resistin represent the most well studied adipokines and, with the exception of adiponectin, their serum and placental levels increase as pregnancy progresses. High levels of adipokines have also been detected in umbilical plasma hence suggesting a possible role on fetal development and metabolism; however, it remains still unclear if such adipokines can directly stimulate fetal tissues development acting as growth factors. In addition to their well known metabolic effects, we also reported studies describing the role of adipokines in promoting proliferation and invasiveness of trophoblast cells and affecting local angiogenic processes. These observations strongly suggest that adipokines, by alternatively interfering with placental development, may affect pregnancy outcome and fetal growth. However, further studies are needed to better understand the local regulation of their expression
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Adipokines

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