Differences in glycolysis and mitochondrial respiration between cytotrophoblast and syncytiotrophoblast in-vitro: Evidence for sexual dimorphism

Matthew Bucher, Leena Kadam, Kylia Ahuna, Leslie Myatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In the placenta the proliferative cytotrophoblast cells fuse into the terminally differentiated syncytiotrophoblast layer which undertakes several energy-intensive functions including nutrient uptake and transfer and hormone synthesis. We used Seahorse glycolytic and mitochondrial stress tests on trophoblast cells isolated at term from women of healthy weight to evaluate if cyto-trophoblast (CT) and syncytiotrophoblast (ST) have different bioenergetic strategies, given their different functions. Whereas there are no differences in basal glycolysis, CT have significantly greater glycolytic capacity and reserve than ST. In contrast, ST have significantly higher basal, ATP-coupled and maximal mitochondrial respiration and spare capacity than CT. Consequently, under stress conditions CT can increase energy generation via its higher glycolytic capacity whereas ST can use its higher and more efficient mitochondrial respiration capacity. We have previously shown that with adverse in utero conditions of diabetes and obesity trophoblast respiration is sexually dimor-phic. We found no differences in glycolytic parameters between sexes and no difference in mito-chondrial respiration parameters other than increases seen upon syncytialization appear to be greater in females. There were differences in metabolic flexibility, i.e., the ability to use glucose, glutamine, or fatty acids, seen upon syncytialization between the sexes with increased flexibility in female trophoblast suggesting a better ability to adapt to changes in nutrient supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10875
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Cytotrophoblast
  • Glycolysis
  • Metabolism
  • Mitochondrial respiration
  • Placenta
  • Placental metabolism
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Syncytio-trophoblast
  • Trophoblast glycolysis
  • Trophoblast mitochondrial respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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