Relaxin, a systemic and placental hormone, has potential roles in fetoplacental growth. Human placenta expresses two RLN genes, RLNH1 and RLNH2. Maternal obesity is common and is associated with abnormal fetal growth. Our aims were to relate systemic and cord blood RLNH2, placental RLNs and their receptor (RXFP1) with fetoplacental growth in context of maternal body mass index, and associations with insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) in the same placentas. Systemic, cord blood and placental samples were collected prior to term labor, divided by prepregnancy body mass index: underweight/normal (N = 25) and overweight/obese (N = 44). Blood RLNH2 was measured by ELISA; placental RLNH2, RLNH1, RXFP1, IGF2 and VEGFA were measured by quantitative immunohistochemistry and mRNAs were measured by quantitative reverse transcription PCR. Birthweight increased with systemic RLNH2 only in underweight/normal women (P = 0.036). Syncytiotrophoblast RLNH2 was increased in overweight/obese patients (P = 0.017) and was associated with placental weight in all subjects (P = 0.038). RLNH1 had no associations with birthweight or placental weight, but was associated with increased trophoblast and endothelial IGF2 and VEGFA, due to female fetal sex. Thus, while systemic RLNH2 may be involved in birthweight regulation in underweight/normal women, placental RLNH2 in all subjects may be involved in placental weight. A strong association of trophoblast IGF2 with birthweight and placental weight in overweight/obese women suggests its importance. However, an association of only RLNH1 with placental IGF2 and VEGFA was dependent upon female fetal sex. These results suggest that both systemic and placental RLNs may be associated with fetoplacental growth.
Source: The journal of Reproductive Science