Preterm birth of new mothers and the delivery of a live infant are common neonatal complications. Chemokines released by the placenta are essential to normal brain development (neurology). Once delivered prematurely (before 37 weeks) neurodevelopment of a fetus is limited.

Providers therefore depend on clinicians to check for postpartum injuries especially in patients with preterm birth defects. In fact research has shown that these complications are common (more than 20-30 of newborn babies born prematurely) producing an obstetrician-scientist every year.

Before and during labor the placenta releases a systemic chemical called acetylcholine which is necessary for brain development. The delivery of a live infant is also required for adult brain functions. However its role in the adult brain is not yet clearly understood.

Now scientists from the laboratory of Henning Boehnke a professor at the University Hospital of Tbingen have discovered two molecules (relay molecules) which were found in the blood of women with preterm birth. They are proteins with an important function in the absence of acetylcholine. If they continue to bind to acetylcholine in the adult brain they will act as mediators. If they are removed acetylcholine levels decrease gradually over several weeks thus preventing the childrens brain from developing very well.

Drs. Boehnke and Tom Polbugski from the University Hospital of Tbingen and Ernksemp-Zentrum Mnchen have tested the growth of adult zebrafish (Chamaecyas nepali) in vitro (living in a milieu separate from the normal shoem. The experiments were carried out with the help of preterm native as opposed to zebrafish raised in immunological deteriories).

To see the results they used the zebrafish xenograft which is the transgenic carrot-pillworm (Swallice vulgaris) which contains genetically modified zebrafish genetically modified in the laboratory of Dr. Otto Schnsel (the University of Tbingen). This made it possible to control the cognitive abilities of the transgenic fish says Professor Boehnke.

The results reveal that the neuroprotective effects of the xenograft placenta appear in a group of neuro markers known as oxytocobrelty that are progressively lower in the neonate. In particular exposure to the neonate behaves much more like an animal model of the human child says the neuroscientist. In other words it provides an overview of normal brain development-an important creating case study published in the scientific journal PNAS. However the placenta strengthens the neonatal brain after birth and can therefore significantly re-induce normal adult behaviours in these young women explains the chemist.

Shortly before birth the placenta releases a hormone called oxytocin as a a way to increase the brain activity of the preterm newborn. The experiment shows this blood pressure regulation is activated shortly after birth. We said that we would rather not call the child a newborn now that this hormone is mainly released by the placenta and the brain points out the chemist.

A possible future link between the placenta and social bonds.

Nevertheless the team is hopeful that their findings may be relevant to the development of new therapies for preterm infants. The placentas effect on the brain could have implications in every aspects of human condition. For instance our results may demonstrate that the placenta may also be involved in the development of the brains strategic memory system which is a crucial aspect of social interactions.