Skip to main content

Nanoparticle-mediated transgene expression of insulin-like growth factor 1 in the growth restricted guinea pig placenta increases placenta nutrient transporter expression and fetal glucose concentrations


Wilson RLRebecca L , Lampe KKristin , Gupta MKMukesh K , Duvall CLCraig L , Jones HNHelen N . Molecular reproduction and development. 2022 09 12; ().


Fetal growth restriction (FGR) significantly contributes to neonatal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. Currently, there are no effective treatment options for FGR during pregnancy. We have developed a nanoparticle gene therapy targeting the placenta to increase expression of human insulin-like growth factor 1 (hIGF1) to correct fetal growth trajectories. Using the maternal nutrient restriction guinea pig model of FGR, an ultrasound-guided, intraplacental injection of nonviral, polymer-based hIGF1 nanoparticle containing plasmid with the hIGF1 gene and placenta-specific Cyp19a1 promotor was administered at mid-pregnancy. Sustained hIGF1 expression was confirmed in the placenta 5 days after treatment. Whilst increased hIGF1 did not change fetal weight, circulating fetal glucose concentration were 33%-67% higher. This was associated with increased expression of glucose and amino acid transporters in the placenta. Additionally, hIGF1 nanoparticle treatment increased the fetal capillary volume density in the placenta, and reduced interhaemal distance between maternal and fetal circulation. Overall, our findings, that trophoblast-specific increased expression of hIGF1 results in changes to glucose transporter expression and increases fetal glucose concentrations within a short time period, highlights the translational potential this treatment could have in correcting impaired placental nutrient transport in human pregnancies complicated by FGR.