Liver protein crucial for pregnancy: Mice study provides insight into mechanisms of human reproduction

A protein first shown to function in the liver plays a crucial role in pregnancy in mice and has a key role in the human menstrual cycle, according to researchers at the University of Montreal.

Mice that were genetically engineered not to produce the liver receptor homolog-1 (Lrh-1) molecule were unable to create the uterine conditions necessary for establishing and sustaining pregnancy, resulting in the formation of defective placentas. The researchers then showed that Lhr-1 was present in the human uterus and the essential processes related to the success of early gestation.

"We previously showed that Lrh-1 is essential for ovulation. Our newest studies have revealed that it is plays an important role in the uterus, raising the possibility that Lrh-1 deficiency contributes to human gestational failure," explained lead author Bruce Murphy, of the university's Animal Reproduction Research Centre. "We worked with mice before looking at human tissues. I believe it premature to propose determination of Lrh-1 in uterine biopsies as a diagnostic tool, but we are working on determining the receptor's pattern of expression across the menstrual cycle."

The researchers also looked at whether might restore normal uterine functions in the mice. "Progesterone did not make a difference. Although hormone therapy allowed for the embryos to implant, we saw problems with the lining in the uterus, compromised formation of the placenta, fetal growth retardation and ," Murphy said. "However, there are new Lrh-1 agonists and antagonists, currently in clinical trials to treat hepatic consequences of type II diabetes, and thus might be possible."

The study was published in Nature Medicine on June 30, 2013.

More information: Liver receptor homolog-1 is essential for pregnancy, DOI: 10.1038/nm.3192

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Unlocking the secrets of pulmonary hypertension

12 hours ago

A UAlberta team has discovered that a protein that plays a critical role in metabolism, the process by which the cell generates energy from foods, is important for the development of pulmonary hypertension, a deadly disease.

New molecule sneaks medicines across the blood/brain barrier

17 hours ago

Delivering life-saving drugs across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) might become a little easier thanks to a new report published in the November 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal. In the report, scientists describe an antibo ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.