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Dr Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri

Dr Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri

University Lecturer in Physiology

Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow

St John's College Research Associate


Research Interests

My lab’s research is focused on understanding the unique relationships among the mother, placenta and fetus that govern pregnancy success and lifelong cardio-metabolic health. Our work explores the metabolic and cardiovascular adaptations of the mother to pregnancy, as well as, the role of the placenta, the organ that develops to transport oxygen and nutrients to the fetus and secretes hormones with physiological effects. We employ environmental (undernutrition, diet-induced obesity and hypoxia) and genetic (constitutive, conditional and knock-down) manipulations in mice to; 1) determine how the environment of the mother affects placental phenotype and thereby regulates fetal nutrition, growth, and offspring outcome, 2) examine how the placenta influences the metabolic and cardiovascular systems of the mother via its endocrine function, and 3) explore whether changes in maternal-fetal resource allocation due to altered placental function program ill health of the offspring and/or mother later in life. We are particularly interested in the involvement of the chief growth-regulatory imprinted gene, Igf2 and its signalling pathway, PI3K in mediating interactions between the mother, placenta and fetus.

We take an integrative approach when addressing research questions; we combine assays and scanning in vivo (glucose and insulin tolerance tests, hyperinsulinaemic-euglycemic clamps, high resolution ultrasound, placental nutrient transfer assays) with cellular, histological and molecular techniques in vitro (cell culture and cell-based assays, immunohistochemistry, stereology, in situ hybridisation, enzymatic assays, RNA-seq, qPCR, mass spectrometry and Western blotting). Through this work, we hope to understand the aetiology of pregnancy complications including abnormal birth weight, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. We also aim to determine the mechanistic basis of the relationships between a poor pregnancy environment and subsequent increased risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the offspring and mother post-pregnancy.

Keywords

Developmental programming of cardio-metabolic dysfunction ; nutrition ; placenta ; Pregnancy complications

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