Infographic: How Pregnancy Changes Fat Tissue

Researchers propose a mechanism by which a protein produced in the placenta may trigger blood vessel growth and enlarge fat cells.

Catherine Offord
Catherine Offord

Catherine is a senior editor at The Scientist.

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Aug 1, 2021

Pregnancy triggers a remodeling of fat tissue, according to findings from researchers at the University of Massachusetts. In the team’s proposed mechanism, pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPPA), which is produced in the placenta and elsewhere in a pregnant person’s body, acts on insulin-like growth factor binding protein-5 (IGFBP-5), freeing up the insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) that typically binds to it. IGF-1 signaling subsequently triggers fat remodeling, including the expansion of blood vessels (angiogenesis) into the tissue (vascularization). These changes are likely to be important for maintaining insulin-driven regulation of glucose levels in the blood, the researchers conclude, although the mechanism for this is not clear.


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