B2 cells in the spleen

Blois Lab

Placental glycocode signalling networks: Implications for maternal and foetal health


We investigate, how cellular sugar chains influence the development of the placenta and complications during and after pregnancy.

Branched molecules called glycans encode information in their structure by chaining different kinds of sugars in a specific sequence. These molecules form a crucial interface that transmits signals between the intracellular and extracellular compartments and regulate several biological processes, including immunity.

Our research will contribute to developing new diagnostic tools and individualized therapies for pregnancy complications.

The research group “Reproduction Glyoimmunology” is supported by German Research Foundation (DFG ) through the Heisenberg Program. It is part of the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC ) from MDC and Charité.


We investigate questions such as: Which maternal-placental glyco-signals influence the child’s lifetime susceptibility to diseases like obesity or heart disease? And how does the interaction of glycans with their ligands (e.g. galectins) influence placental development and function?

At the MDC, the research projects include the analysis of glycocode dynamics in the healthy and diseased placenta and the characterization of the placental glycocode signature in the maternal circulation.


Chen Q, Pang PC, Cohen ME, Longtine MS, Schust DJ, Haslam SM, Blois SM, Dell A, Clark GF.
Evidence for Differential Glycosylation of Trophoblast Cell Types.
Mol Cell Proteomics. 2016 Jun;15(6):1857-66.

Freitag N, Tirado-González I, Barrientos G, Herse F, Thijssen VL, Weedon-Fekjær SM, Schulz H, Wallukat G, Klapp BF, Nevers T, Sharma S, Staff AC, Dechend R, Blois SM.
Interfering with Gal-1-mediated angiogenesis contributes to the pathogenesis of preeclampsia.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jul 9;110(28):11451-6.