Liver protein crucial for healthy placenta during pregnancy

Lhr-1, a protein present in the liver is vital for human menstruation and is also crucial for pregnancy, researchers have found.

According to the findings of a new study, the deficiency of liver protein impairs the conditions necessary for a healthy uterine thus resulting in gestational failure.

“We previously showed that Lrh-1 is essential for ovulation. Our newest studies have revealed that it plays an important role in the uterus, raising the possibility that Lrh-1 deficiency contributes to human gestational failure,” said lead author Bruce Murphy, from the University of Montreal’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 study
For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at mice that were genetically engineered not to produce the liver receptor homolog-1 (Lrh-1) molecule.

Researchers found that the absence of liver protein in mice resulted in the body’s inability to create the uterine conditions necessary for establishing a successful pregnancy. The deficiency of the liver protein resulted in formation of defective placentas.

Furthermore, researchers also tested if hormone replacement therapy could prove effective in restoring regular 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 fetal death,” Murphy marked.

However, therapeutic intervention may be possible, researchers marked. “There are new Lrh-1 agonists and antagonists, currently in clinical trials to treat hepatic consequences of type II diabetes”.

The study, published in the current issue of the journal Nature Medicine, was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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