Enhancement of placental blood vessel development to improve fetal health outcomes

Poor fetal growth is detrimental not only in the short-term, but also the long-term. This is as poor fetal growth is associated with adverse health outcomes in later life such as high blood pressure and neuropsychiatric disease. Professor Wyrwoll’s  goal is to mitigate these adverse health outcomes by optimizing fetal growth in compromised pregnancies. This will be achieved by improving placental function, which is a key regulator of fetal growth.

This project will focus on enhancing blood vessel development in the placentas of rats exposed to high levels of stress hormones during pregnancy. Professor Wyrwoll will specifically focus on manipulating angiogenic factors, which are known to play a key role in regulating placental blood vessel development.

Her previous work has shown that elevated stress hormones during pregnancy alter placental development and function, impair fetal growth and lead to adverse health outcomes in later life. Therefore, the project will focus not only on the short-term effects on placental and fetal development, but also longer term health outcomes of the offspring. These health outcomes include metabolic parameters (blood pressure, glucose parameters, adiposity) and behavioural phenotypes.


  • Professor Megan Holmes, University of Edinburgh