Placental Homing Peptide-microRNA Inhibitor Conjugates For Targeted Enhancement Of Intrinsic Placental Growth Signaling

Frances Beards, Lisa Jones, Jayne Charnock, Karen Forbes, Lynda Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


Suboptimal placental growth and development are the underlying cause of many pregnancy complications. No treatments are available, primarily due to the risk of causing fetal teratogenicity. microRNAs (miRNAs) are short, non-coding RNA sequences that regulate multiple downstream genes; miR-145 and miR675 have previously been identified as negative regulators of placental growth. In this proof of principle study, we explored the feasibility of delivering miRNA inhibitors to the placentas of pregnant mice and developed novel placental homing peptide-microRNA inhibitor conjugates for targeted enhancement of intrinsic placental growth signalling. Scrambled-, miR-145- or miR-675 inhibitor sequences were synthesised from peptide nucleic acids and conjugated to the placental homing peptide CCGKRK. Intravenous administration of the miR-145- and miR-675 conjugates to pregnant C57BL/6J mice significantly increased fetal and placental weights compared to controls; the miR-675 conjugate significantly reduced placental miR-675 expression. When applied to human first trimester placental explants, the miR-145 conjugate significantly reduced placental miR-145 expression, and both conjugates induced significant enhancement of cytotrophoblast proliferation; no effect was observed in term placental explants. This study demonstrates that homing peptide-miRNA inhibitor conjugates can be exploited to promote placental growth; these novel therapeutics may represent an innovative strategy for targeted treatment of compromised placental development
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2940-2955
Number of pages16
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2017


  • Fetal growth restriction
  • IGF-II
  • Placenta
  • Pregnancy
  • Proliferation
  • microRNA


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