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Dr Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri

My interest lies in understanding the aetiology of pregnancy complications and the regulation of developmental processes in a wider context. My laboratory has been investigating the environmental and genetic control of placental morphogenesis and function and its relevance for fetal development, maternal health and the long-term programming of disease.
Dr Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri

University Lecturer in Physiology

Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow & Lister Institute Fellow

Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri is accepting applications for PhD students.

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 333807, Lab: +44 (0) 1223 746744

Research Interests

In developed countries, more than 15% of women develop pregnancy complications which are associated with placental insufficiency and fetal and maternal morbidity and mortality. Such complications include fetal growth restriction, premature birth, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. To better understand the aetiology of these pregnancy complications and developmental processes in a wider context, my laboratory has been investigating the environmental and genetic control of placental morphogenesis and function and its relevance for fetal development, maternal health and the long-term programming of disease. Our work combines novel genetic tools and established environmental models, with in vivo functional assays and cellular, histological and molecular techniques in vitro. Our work also employs manipulations of the insulin-like growth factor- phosphoinositide-3 kinase (IGF-PI3K) system to identify its importance in metabolism and developmental physiology and as a tool to more widely address the following research aims of the lab:

1) To better understand the molecular mechanisms governing placental trophoblast differentiation and function.

2) To examine how the placenta may influence the metabolic and cardiovascular systems of the mother and thus, her capacity to partition resources to the developing fetus.

3) To determine how the placenta senses and responds to the maternal environment and thereby regulates fetal growth and development.

4) To identify whether changes in maternal-fetal resource allocation due to altered placental function has consequences for the developmental and health program of the offspring later in life.


Prof Abby Fowden
Prof Graham Burton
Dr Andrew Murray
Prof Dino Giussani
Dr Miguel Constancia, Dept of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cambridge
Dr Mike Deery, Cambridge Centre for Proteomics, University of Cambridge
Prof Sue Ozanne, Institute of Metabolic Sciences, Cambridge
Dr David Williams, University College London
Prof Martha Lappas and Dr Padma Murthi, University of Melbourne


Current funding

Royal Society

Academy of Medical Sciences


EU commission

Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine

Isaac Newton Trust




Examiner and demonstrator for Part 1B Human Reproduction

Lecturer for the Placental Biology Course, Centre for Trophoblast Research

Key Publications

Napso T*, Yong HEJ*, Lopez-Tello J, Sferruzzi-Perri AN. The role of placental hormones in mediating maternal adaptations to support pregnancy and lactation. Frontiers in Physiology, In Press. *Joint first author.

Camm EJ, Botting KJ, Sferruzzi-Perri AN Near to one’s heart: the intimate relationship between the placenta and fetal heart. Invited Review. Frontiers in Physiology, 9:629.

Kwok A, Zvetkova I, Virtue S, Huang-Doran I, TomlinsonP, Bulger A, Hart D, Knox R, Franks S, Voschol P,  Vidal-Puig A, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Jensen J, O’Rahilly S, Semple RC-terminal truncation of Pik3r1 in mice models human lipodystrophic insulin resistance uncoupled from dyslipidemia. Available online on Bioarchive server:

Balmas E, Rana B, Hamilton RS, Shreeve N, Kieckbusch J, Aye I, Hawkes DA, Trotter S, López-Tello J, Yong H, Valenti S, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Gaccioli F, McKenzie ANJ, Colucci F Maternal group 2 innate lymphoid cells control fetal growth and protect from endotoxin-induced abortion in mice. Available online on Bioarchive server:

Sferruzzi-Perri AN (2018) Balancing needs; Exploring the role of IGF2 signalling in materno-fetal resource allocation. Invited Review. Placenta, 64 Suppl 1:S16-S22.

Sferruzzi-Perri AN Assessment of placental transport function in studies of disease programming (2018). Invited Review. Methods in Molecular Biology, 1735:239-250.

Decato BE, Lopez-Tello J, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Smith AD, Dean MD (2017) DNA methylation divergence and tissue specialization in the developing mouse placenta, Molecular Biology and Evolution, 34(7):1702-1712.

Musial B, Vaughan OR, Ozanne SE, Fowden AL, Sferruzzi-Perri AN (2017) A diet high in sugar and fat causes glucose intolerance and fat deposition in the mother with consequences for feto-placental growth in mice, J Physiol,  595(14):4875-4892.

Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Sandovici I, Constancia M, Fowden AL (2017) Placental phenotype and the insulin-like growth factors: resource allocation to fetal growth. Invited review, J Physiol, 595(15):5057-5093

Fernandez-Twinn D, Gascoin G, Musial B, Carr S, Duque-Guimaraes D, Blackmore H, Zahra M Alfaradhi, Loche E, Ferland-McCollough D, Bushell M, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Fowden AL, Ozanne SE (2017) Exercise rescues obese mothers' insulin sensitivity, placental function and her offsprings' insulin sensitivity, Scientific Reports, 7:44650.

Nadkarni S,Smith J, Machado I,Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Kishore M Hass R, Mauro C, Williams D, Farsky S, Marelli-Berg F, Perretti M (2017) Neutrophils induce pro-angiogenic T cells with a regulatory phenotype in pregnancy, PNAS, 113(52):E8415-E8424.

Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Lopez-Tello J, Fowden AL, Constancia M (2016) Maternal and fetal genomes interact at the placenta to modify resource allocation during pregnancy: using PI3K-p110a as a tool, PNAS113(40):11255-11260.

Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Camm EJ (2016) The programming power of the placenta, Frontiers in Physiology, 7:33.

Boulenouar B*, Doisne J-M*, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Gaynor L, Kieckbusch J, Balmas E, Yung HW, Javadzadeh S, Volmer L, Hawkes DA, Phillips K, Brady H, Fowden AL, Burton GJ, Moffett A, Colucci F (2015) NFIL3-dependent natural killer cells mediate maternal adaptations to pregnancy, placental development and fetal growth, Frontiers in Immunology, 7:43* joint first author.

Musial B, Fernandez-Twinn, Vaughan OR, Ozanne SE, Voshol P, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Fowden AL (2015) Proximity to delivery alters insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in pregnant mice, Diabetes, Jan 6. pii: db151531.

Higgins JS, Vaughan OR, Fernandez De Liger E, Fowden AL, Sferruzzi-Perri AN (2015) Placental phenotype and resource allocation to fetal growth are modified by the timing and degree of hypoxia during mouse pregnancy, J Physiol, 594(5):1341-56.

Ito M, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Edwards CA, Adalsteinsson BT, Allen SE, Loo TH, Kitazawa M, Kaneko-Ishino T, Ishino F, Stewart CL, Ferguson-Smith AC (2015) A trans-homologue interaction between reciprocally imprinted miR-127 and Rtl1 regulates placenta development, Development, 142(14):2425-30.

Standen P, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Taylor R, Heinemann G, Zhang JV, Highet AR, Pringle KG, Owens JA, Kumarasamy V, Lumbers ER, Roberts CT (2015) Maternal insulin-like growth factor 1 and 2 differentially affect the renin-angiotensin system during pregnancy in the guinea pig, Growth Horm IGF Res, 25(3):141-7.

Skeffington KL, Higgins JS, Mahmoud AD, Evans AM, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Fowden AL, Yung HW, Burton GJ, Giussani DA, Moore LG (2015) Hypoxia, AMPK activation and uterine artery vasoreactivity,J Physiol, 594(5):1105-11.

Vaughan OR, Fisher HM, Dionelis KN, Jefferies EC, Higgins JS, Musial B, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Fowden AL (2015) Corticosterone alters materno-fetal glucose partitioning and insulin signalling in pregnant mice, J Physiol, 593(5):1307-21.

Fowden AL, Forhead AJ, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Burton GJ, Vaughan OR (2014) Endocrine regulation of placental phenotype, Placenta, Suppl 1:S50-9.

Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Vaughan OR, Haro M, Cooper WN, Musial B, Charalambous M, Pestana D, Ayyar S, Ferguson-Smith AC, Burton GJ, Constancia M, Fowden AL (2013) An Obesogenic Diet Modifies nutrient partitioning and fetal Growth Trajectory, FASEB J, 27(10):3928-37.

Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Vaughan OR, Forhead AJ, Fowden AL (2013) Hormonal and nutritional drivers of intrauterine growth, Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 16(3):298-309.

Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Owens JA, Pringle KG, Roberts CT (2011) The neglected role of maternal endocrine insulin-like growth factors in regulating fetal growth, Invited Review, Journal of Physiology, 589(Pt 1):7-20.

Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Vaughan OR, Coan PM, Suciu MC, Darbyshire R, Constancia M, Burton GJ, Fowden AL (2011) Placental-specific Igf2 deficiency alters developmental adaptations to undernutrition in mice, Endocrinology, 52(8):3202-12.

Plain English

During pregnancy, more than 15% of women develop complications like fetal growth restriction, premature birth, gestational diabetes and excessive blood pressure (preeclampsia). These complications threaten the life and health of the mother and baby during pregnancy and predispose to disease in later life. Our lab studies how genetic and environmental factors interact with one another to influence the placenta, an organ that develops and performs many vital functions during pregnancy. In doing so, we hope to find ways to prevent the pregnancy complications and improve the health and wellbeing of women and their babies.

summer 2018.4.JPG

From left to right (front row): Sijia Yao (undergraduate student), Yin Po (undergraduate student), Hannah Yong (Postdoc), Bethany Aykroyd (PhD student), Efthimia Christoforou (PhD student). From left to right (back row): Akalanka Ranasinghe (undergraduate student), Sercan Guloglu (Erasmus undergraduate student), Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri (Lab head), Tina Napso (Postdoc), Jorge Lopez-Tello (Postdoc). To join October 2018: Amanda Rodgers (PhD student)


teaching france

Above: Teaching researchers in France how to dissect the placenta.


Above: Histological samples of the murine placenta showing its gross architecture and below: the detailed structure of the materno-feto interface (FC=fetal capillary, MBS= maternal blood space, T=trophoblast).