PodcastPhysiology

Science Signaling Podcast: 25 August 2015

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Sci. Signal.  25 Aug 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 391, pp. pc21
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aad1543

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Abstract

This Podcast features an interview with Todd Rosen and Bingbing Wang, authors of a Research Article that appears in the 25 August 2015 issue of Science Signaling, about epigenetic changes in the placenta that are induced by glucocorticoids and associated with labor. Hormones control all stages of female reproduction, including the length of gestation and the timing of labor. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is produced by the hypothalamus in response to stress, but it is also produced by the placenta during pregnancy. Near the end of gestation, the fetus produces the glucocorticoid cortisol, which stimulates the placenta to increase CRH production. Di Stefano et al. found that glucocorticoids stimulated the expression of CRH in placental cells by promoting dynamic histone acetylation and deacetylation at the CRH promoter through a mechanism that was dependent on the transcription factor NF-κB. These findings identify an epigenetic switch that controls the duration of gestation and the timing of labor and suggest a mechanism by which placental stress induces labor.

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