Forschung Gottfried Schatz Forschungszentrum

Research Focus: Reproduction, pregnancy and regeneration

PI: Martin Gauster

Focus: Inadequate placental development during early pregnancy has been associated with pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction, which may lead to an adverse outcome of pregnancy and to deleterious effects on mother and child even later in life. Thus, our current projects focus on inflammatory processes in early placental development as well as mechanisms involved in placenta-associated pregnancy pathologies.

Network: We cooperate with Kratky Dagmar, Gottschalk Benjamin (Division of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Gottfried Schatz Research Center), Hill Christian (Division of Biophysics, Gottfried Schatz Research Center), Cvirn Gerhard (Division of Physiological Chemistry, Otto Loewi Research Center), Desoye Gernot, Hiden Ursula, Hirschmugl Birgit, Wadsack Christian (Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology)


    The role of adhering maternal platelets on villous trophoblast

    • Adhering maternal platelets represent an underappreciated source of modulating factors, which could affect villous trophoblast and its cross-talk with maternal circulating blood cells. In this project, the hypothesis is tested whether platelet-derived factors affect proliferation, differentiation and the endocrine activity of trophoblasts, and whether they can activate maternal immune cells that pass the placental intervillous space.
    • Duration: 2017-2021
    • Funded by: FWF

    The role of Angiotensin II on placental fractalkine

    • Angiotensin acts on angiotensin receptors located on many organs including human placenta. Angiotensin has been suggested to function as an inflammatory mediator by inducing synthesis of proinflammatory molecules. Amongst these, the chemokine fractalkine has recently attracted increasing attention due to its dual nature, existing both as cell-bound and soluble form. In this project the hypothesis is tested whether or not angiotensin II can stimulate the synthesis and release of fractalkine in human placenta and moreover, whether this stimulatory effect promotes adhesion and activation of a certain subset of maternal white blood cells.
    • Duration: 2017-2021
    • Funded by: FWF
    • Project partner: Florian Herse (Charité / MDC Berlin)

    Flow-mediated modulation of villous trophoblast physiology

    • In this study, the relationship between the intensity of fluid shear stress and the biological response of the villous trophoblast layer will be investigated. Thus, the hypothesis is tested whether alterations in flow rate affects trophoblast turnover, morphology, metabolism, endocrine activity and the inflammatory response. The overarching aim is addressed by three interconnected work packages, including flow culture experiments with a trophoblast cell line, primary trophoblasts and placental explants from human first trimester of pregnancy.
    • Duration: 2020-2023
    • Funded by: OeNB

    Placental CD39 and CD73 in human pregnancy

    • Extracellular ATP serves as an important signalling molecule that modulates several pathological effects in the settings of inflammation, platelet activation and thrombosis. Extracellular ATP is deactivated by conversion into AMP and subsequently into adenosine by the two major nucleotide-metabolizing enzymes CD39 and CD73. In this project, the hypothesis is tested whether CD39 and CD73 are expressed in human placenta from very early phase onwards to term of gestation, and whether they are deregulated in response to pro-inflammatory cytokines, to reduced oxygen supply and increased mechanical shear forces.
    • Duration: 2020-2024
    • Funded by: FWF

    Maternal platelet activation and the placental endocrine activity

    • This study investigates the localization and activation of maternal platelets in human first trimester placenta. Moreover, focus is set on the influence of maternal platelets and their released factors on different trophoblast subtypes and their endocrine activity. This study will provide additional insight into maternal-fetal interactions and how exaggerated platelet activation can contribute to pregnancy pathologies.
    • Duration: 2018-2022
    • Funded by: FWF

    Placental explant culture 2.0: Flow culture better mimics the in vivo situation in preeclampsia

    • Preeclampsia is a pregnancy syndrome with unknown etiology, where placental degeneration may result in the release of pro-inflammatory vesicles into maternal blood. The vesicles affect the maternal vascular system resulting in clinical symptoms of the mother. To elucidate quality and quantity of particles and their effect on the maternal endothelium, we established a novel flow culture system for placental explants simulating various health conditions of pregnancy. This enables the analysis of the effect of released placental particles on maternal endothelial cells under constant fluid flow.
    • Duration: 2018-2022
    • Funded by: FWF

    Division of Cell Biology, Histology and Embryology

    Assoz.-Prof. Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr.
    Martin Gauster  
    T: +43 316 385 71896