During pregnancy, there is a progressive increase in the levels of maternal cholesterol, a lipid that is essential for foetal growth and development. This increase can occur in a physiological (MPH) or supraphysiological (MSPH) manner, where MSPH is associated with detrimental effects on the mother and foetus, including endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and atherosclerosis. Cholesterol is transported from the maternal to the foetal circulation through the placenta by a process that encompasses two main events: cholesterol uptake and efflux. The main receptors and transporters that participate in cholesterol transport are expressed in the human placenta, and their regulation in normal and pathological pregnancies has been evaluated. However, whether elevated levels of cholesterol induce these detrimental changes and whether their expression and function changes in the MSPH condition is still under study, along with the cell types involved in placental cholesterol traffic. Moreover, aside from cholesterol levels, the composition and function of lipoproteins have recently become important to study as these factors may also contribute to the atherogenic process. There is information regarding the maternal and neonatal lipoproteins profile and their changes during pregnancy. However, there are no reports that evaluate the changes of these lipoproteins in MSPH pregnancies. The latter could be relevant considering the consequences that MSPH has on the foetal vasculature. In this review, we summarize the available information regarding cholesterol transport through the placenta and the metabolism of maternal and neonatal lipoproteins in MPH and MSPH conditions, suggesting the importance of increasing our knowledge about these conditions and the monitoring of maternal cholesterol levels during pregnancy.
Keywords: Cholesterol; Cholesterol transport; Human pregnancy; Lipoproteins.
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