The placenta, uterus, ovary, and fallopian tube act in concert to achieve successful pregnancy outcomes. These organs undergo marked changes in structure and function throughout the lifespan, coordinating with one another via direct and distant cell-cell interactions. Here, we propose to generate and integrate data from in vivo imaging and ex vivo histopathologic, biomechanical, and multi-omic spatial profiling data, in order to generate reference multiscale 3D maps of healthy human female reproductive organs representing a range of normal physiologic states that exist at different points in a woman?s life. These will serve as key frames of reference for future studies aiming to discover how perturbation of tissue structure and function leads to organ dysfunction and disease. Our team is well-equipped to achieve this goal, with expertise in clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology and Placental/Perinatal and Gynecologic Pathology, imaging, spatial molecular profiling, single- cell omics, extracellular matrix (ECM) biology, biomechanical testing, data management, and computational biology. We will leverage our well-established translational research infrastructure to recruit diverse cohorts of healthy pregnant women and non-pregnant premenopausal and postmenopausal women undergoing gynecologic surgery for benign indications. We will then perform in vivo imaging using MRI and ultrasound to delineate tissue structure, perfusion, inflammation, calcifications, and other features. After delivery/surgery, tissues will be rapidly sampled, processed, and stored in multiple ways (fresh, flash frozen, preserved in solutions for optimal nucleic acid analysis, and FFPE) to enable generation of high-quality data using a variety of molecular approaches, with extra samples retained for future studies. Detailed review of clinical data and formal histopathologic evaluation of adjacent tissue sections will be performed to confirm that normal tissue has been obtained from subjects with normal outcomes. Initial ex vivo analysis will include biomechanical testing, extracellular matrix proteomics, and bulk and single-cell RNAseq and ATACseq. The results of these studies will be analyzed to identify targets for the subsequent imaging mass cytometry (IMC) and spatial transcriptomic studies. These data types will be integrated to enable mapping of the relationships among different cell types and between cells and the surrounding extracellular matrix on the microscopic level, and between tissue architecture and the biomechanical properties and imaging features on a macroscopic level. The unique populations of endothelial cells in the placenta and the endothelial mimicry of the extravillous trophoblast will provide unique opportunities to integrate with other endothelial-centric HuBMAP projects (e.g. lymphatic system, endothelial atlas, and kidney atlas). Close interactions with other HuBMAP Centers will be established to enable harmonization of data and metadata standards, sharing of resources (e.g. antibodies with HuBMAP Centers that are developing/using CODEX and MIBI-TOF), rapid adoption of new technologies, collaborative data analysis, and rapid sharing of data with the HIVE and the broader scientific community.

Public Health Relevance

The primary goal of this Female Reproductive Tissue Mapping Center is to develop three-dimensional multiscale maps of the placenta, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes spanning multiple physiological states across the reproductive lifespan, including pregnancy, the proliferative/follicular and secretory/luteal phases of the menstrual period, and the postmenopausal period. To do this, we will apply a range of imaging and molecular profiling modalities, including in vivo MRI and ultrasound imaging, and ex vivo extracellular matrix proteomics, formal histopathologic evaluation, biomechanical testing, imaging mass cytometry, and spatial transcriptomics, with the resulting data being analyzed and distributed to the broader research community in collaboration with the HuBMAP Integration, Visualization, and Engagement (HIVE) Collaboratory. This project is relevant to public health because the resulting 3D multiscale maps of normal female reproductive tissues will serve as key frames of reference for future studies aiming to discover how perturbation of tissue structure and/or function leads to organ dysfunction in common, yet poorly understood, conditions such as preeclampsia, endometriosis, female infertility, and gynecologic cancers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Halvorson, Lisa M
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University of California, San Diego
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Schools of Medicine
La Jolla
United States
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