Human placenta as an endocrine organ

Growth Horm IGF Res. 2003 Aug;13 Suppl A:S34-7. doi: 10.1016/s1096-6374(03)00053-4.


The placenta is a unique, autonomous and transient organ. It ensures maternal-fetal exchanges and is also involved in maternal tolerance of feto-paternal antigens. The human placenta is characterized by the major invasion of the trophoblast, which comes in contact with the maternal blood, and by the intensity and the specificity of its endocrine functions. Placental hormones are required for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy, adaptation of the maternal organism to pregnancy, fetal growth and well being, and development of the mechanisms involved in parturition. The endocrine tissue of the placenta is the syncytiotrophoblast, which covers the chorionic villi, and arises from the fusion of the cytotrophoblasts. In this review we will summarize the particulars of human syncytiotrophoblast development and endocrine functions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endocrine System / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Placenta / physiology*
  • Pregnancy