Extravillous trophoblast migration and invasion: Impact of environmental chemicals and pharmaceuticals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During pregnancy, the migration and invasion of extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs) into the maternal uterus is essential for proper development of the placenta and fetus. During the first trimester, EVTs engraft and remodel maternal spiral arteries allowing for efficient blood flow and the transfer of essential nutrients and oxygen to the fetus. Aberrant migration of EVTs leading to either shallow or deep invasion into the uterus has been implicated in a number of gestational pathologies including preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, and placenta accreta spectrum. The migration and invasion of EVTs is well-coordinated to ensure proper placentation. However, recent data point to the ability of xenobiotics to disrupt EVT migration. These xenobiotics include heavy metals, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and organic contaminants and have often been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. In most instances, xenobiotics appear to reduce EVT migration; however, there are select examples of enhanced motility after chemical exposure. In this review, we provide an overview of the 1) current experimental approaches used to evaluate EVT migration and invasion in vitro, 2) ability of environmental chemicals and pharmaceuticals to enhance or retard EVT motility, and 3) signaling pathways responsible for altered EVT migration that are sensitive to disruption by xenobiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-68
Number of pages9
JournalReproductive Toxicology
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology


  • Extravillous trophoblast
  • Migration
  • Placenta
  • Placenta accreta spectrum
  • Preeclampsia
  • Pregnancy


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