Placental mitochondrial function as a driver of angiogenesis and placental dysfunction

Yolanda Correia, Julia Scheel, Shailendra Gupta, Keqing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The placenta is a highly vascularized and complex foetal organ that performs various tasks, crucial to a healthy pregnancy. Its dysfunction leads to complications such as stillbirth, preeclampsia, and intrauterine growth restriction. The specific cause of placental dysfunction remains unknown. Recently, the role of mitochondrial function and mitochondrial adaptations in the context of angiogenesis and placental dysfunction is getting more attention. The required energy for placental remodelling, nutrient transport, hormone synthesis, and the reactive oxygen species leads to oxidative stress, stemming from mitochondria. Mitochondria adapt to environmental changes and have been shown to adjust their oxygen and nutrient use to best support placental angiogenesis and foetal development. Angiogenesis is the process by which blood vessels form and is essential for the delivery of nutrients to the body. This process is regulated by different factors, pro-angiogenic factors and anti-angiogenic factors, such as sFlt-1. Increased circulating sFlt-1 levels have been linked to different preeclamptic phenotypes. One of many effects of increased sFlt-1 levels, is the dysregulation of mitochondrial function. This review covers mitochondrial adaptations during placentation, the importance of the anti-angiogenic factor sFlt-1in placental dysfunction and its role in the dysregulation of mitochondrial function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-909
Number of pages23
JournalBiological Chemistry
Issue number8
Early online date5 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

CC BY 4.0

Funding: J.S. and Y.C. have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska Curie grant agreement No 765274, project iPLACENTA.


  • Computational modelling
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Preeclampsia
  • Systems biology
  • Vascular deregulation


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