Sunday, December 4, 2022
Mitochondrial Health

Cambridge Reproduction Early Researchers Seminar Series: Antonia Hufnagel

The Early Researchers Seminar Series (ERSS) is a platform for PhD Students and early career researchers (ECRs) at the University of Cambridge with research foci on reproduction to share and discuss their research with other academics from a range of disciplines also researching reproduction at the University. Seminars are held on Zoom on the third Thursday of every month, 1pm – 2pm. For more information, and for the current programme, please see the main ERSS page:


Investigation of metformin use in pregnancy in a murine model of maternal obesity and glucose intolerance
Antonia Hufnagel (Institute of Metabolic Science)

Chair: Dr Staci Meredith Weiss (Psychology)

More than 50% of women enter pregnancy overweight or obese worldwide, and this is thought to contribute to recent increases in the prevalence of gestational diabetes. It is well-known that gestational diabetes has short- and long-term detrimental consequences for mother and baby and therefore women with gestational diabetes are treated to control glycaemia. Metformin, an oral glucose-lowering agent, is the first line pharmacological treatment for gestational diabetes in many countries, including the UK. However, metformin freely crosses the placenta and hence has the potential to have direct effects on the placenta and fetus. We therefore assessed the use of metformin in pregnancy in a mouse (C57Bl6/J) model of diet-induced obesity and glucose intolerance. Metformin was given at clinically relevant doses one week prior to and during pregnancy. Obese animals had increased fat mass, impaired glucose tolerance, and reduced uterine artery compliance at the end of pregnancy (E18.5). Metformin treatment improved all these parameters. Maternal obesity caused placental calcification and a reduction of the placental labyrinthine. Consistent with these changes in the placenta, the fetuses of obese mothers were smaller than control fetuses at E18.5. Despite improvements in maternal metabolism and uterine artery function, metformin did not prevent the effects of maternal obesity on fetal growth or the placenta. Metformin entered the placenta and the fetal circulation at levels equivalent to those in the maternal circulation. These findings identify the need to further define the direct effects of metformin on the fetus that could potentially impact on long-term health.

Watch the other presentation from this seminar:

Can ethical and religious considerations legitimately influence a publicly-funded healthcare system? The case of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) in Germany
Irene Domenici (Max Planck Law/Faculty of Law)

More information about Cambridge Reproduction SRI:


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