Integrated analysis of an in vivo model of intra-nasal exposure to instilled air pollutants reveals cell-type specific responses in the placenta

Sci Rep. 2022 May 19;12(1):8438. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-12340-z.


The placenta is a heterogeneous organ whose development involves complex interactions of trophoblasts with decidual, vascular, and immune cells at the fetal-maternal interface. It maintains a critical balance between maternal and fetal homeostasis. Placental dysfunction can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes including intra-uterine growth restriction, pre-eclampsia, or pre-term birth. Exposure to environmental pollutants contributes to the development of placental abnormalities, with poorly understood molecular underpinning. Here we used a mouse (C57BL/6) model of environmental pollutant exposure by administration of a particulate matter (SRM1649b at 300 μg/day/mouse) suspension intra-nasally beginning 2 months before conception and during gestation, in comparison to saline-exposed controls. Placental transcriptomes, at day 19 of gestation, were determined using bulk RNA-seq from whole placentas of exposed (n = 4) and control (n = 4) animals and scRNAseq of three distinct placental layers, followed by flow cytometry analysis of the placental immune cell landscape. Our results indicate a reduction in vascular placental cells, especially cells responsible for structural integrity, and increase in trophoblast proliferation in animals exposed to particulate matter. Pollution-induced inflammation was also evident, especially in the decidual layer. These data indicate that environmental exposure to air pollutants triggers changes in the placental cellular composition, mediating adverse pregnancy outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants* / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Decidua
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Placenta
  • Placenta Diseases*
  • Pregnancy
  • Trophoblasts


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter