Pollution particles, including metals, have been found in the placentas of fifteen women in London, according to research led by Queen Mary University of London.
The study, funded by Barts Charity and published in the journal Science of The Total Environment, demonstrate that inhaled particulate matter from air pollution can move from the lungs to distant organs, and that it is taken up by certain cells in the human placenta, and potentially the fetus.
The researchers say that further research is needed to fully define the direct effect that pollution particles may have on the developing fetus.
Lead author Professor Jonathan Grigg from Queen Mary University of London said: “Our study for the first time shows that inhaled carbon particulate matter in air pollution, travels in the blood stream, and is taken up by important cells in the placenta. We hope that this information will encourage policy makers to
The first stages of placental development take place days before the embryo starts to form in human pregnancies. The finding highlights the importance of healthy placental development in pregnancy, and could lead to future improvements in fertility treatments such as IVF, and a better understanding of placental-related diseases in pregnancy.
In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers looked at the biological pathways active in human embryos during their first few days of development to understand how cells acquire different fates and functions within the early embryo.
They observed that shortly after fertilisation as cells start to divide, some cells start to stick together. This triggers a cascade of molecular events that initiate placental development. A subset of cells change shape, or ‘polarise’, and this drives the change into a placental progenitor cell — the precursor to a specialised placenta cell — that can be distinguished by differences