Schulich school of Medicine and Dentistry logo Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Dr. Stephen Renaud


Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Queen's University 
B.Sc. Queen's University

Office: Medical Sciences Building, Rm. 428 
519-661-2111 Ext. 88272 

Research Interests:

My research interests encompass the cellular and molecular mechanisms of placental development and function. There are two reasons I am interested in studying the placenta. First, the placenta is an exceptionally unique organ, one with evolutionary adaptations not observed in any other tissue. The second reason is from a public health perspective. The placenta intimately connects a mother with her developing baby, and it performs vital functions required for pregnancy such as regulating nutrient exchange between maternal and fetal blood, and producing hormones necessary for fetal development. Placental maldevelopment or dysfunction is linked with a variety of pregnancy complications (e.g. pre-eclampsia, fetal growth restriction, pre-term birth, placenta accreta, spontaneous abortion) that cause significant maternal and fetal illness or death. Despite its importance for the health of mothers and their babies, we really don’t have a good grasp on how the placenta develops or functions. 

Our research interests can be broadly divided into two themes:

  1. Development of the trophoblast: the epithelial component of the placenta is comprised of trophoblast cells. These cells originate from a multilineage differentiation pathway that progressively differentiate into specialized trophoblast lineages, each with distinct morphologies and functions. We are particularly interested in how transcription factors and epigenetic regulators coordinate the progressive differentiation of trophoblast cells into defined lineages. Active projects in the laboratory include i) determining how conserved “OVO-like” transcription factors coordinate the transition of trophoblast cells from progenitor to differentiated states; and ii) transcriptional control of endogenous retroviral genes, which are genes that encode cellular fusogens necessary for generation of the placental epithelial barrier.

  2. Defining interactions between maternal immune cells and trophoblast cells: we are interested in how trophoblast cells interact with maternal immune cells. Trophoblast cells express paternal antigens and should be recognized as foreign by maternal immune cells. Why trophoblast cells are tolerated during normal pregnancies is not clear, but it is hypothesized that aberrant interactions between maternal immune cells and trophoblast cells may play a role in the development of various obstetric complications. We use both in vitro and in vivo models to provide insight on how the immune environment can shape trophoblast behaviour, placental development, and fetal health.

Selected Publications:

  1. Renaud SJ, Kubota K, Rumi M.A., and Soares MJ. The FOS transcription factor family differentially controls trophoblast migration and invasion. J Biol Chem. 2014 289(8):5025-39. PMID 24379408.

  2. Soares MJ, Chakraborty D, Renaud SJ, Kubota K, Bu P, Konno T, Rumi MA. Regulatory pathways controlling the endovascular invasive trophoblast cell lineage. J Reprod Dev. 2012 58(3):283-7. PMID 22790871.

  3. Soares MJ, Chakraborty D, Karim Rumi MA, Konno T, Renaud SJ. Rat placentation: an experimental model for investigating the hemochorial maternal-fetal interface. Placenta. 2012 33(4):233-43. PMID 22284666.

  4. Asanoma K, Kubota K, Chakraborty D, Renaud SJ, Wake N, Fukushima K, Soares MJ, Rumi MA. SATB homeobox proteins regulate trophoblast stem cell renewal and differentiation. J Biol Chem. 2012 287(3):2257-68. PMID 22123820.

  5. Konno T, Rempel LA, Rumi MA, Graham AR, Asanoma K, Renaud SJ, Soares MJ. Chromosome-substituted rat strains provide insights into the genetics of placentation. Physiol Genomics. 2011 43(15):930-41. PMID 21652768.

  6. Barsoum IB, Renaud SJ, Graham CH. Glyceryl trinitrate inhibits hypoxia-induced release of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 and endoglin from placental tissues. Am J Pathol. 2011 178(6):2888-96. PMID 21641407.

  7. Asanoma K, Rumi MAK, Kent, LN, Chakraborty D, Renaud SJ, Wake N, Lee, D-S, Kubota K, and Soares MJ. FGF4-dependent stem cells derived from rat blastocysts differentiate along the trophoblast lineage. Dev Biol. 2011 351(1):110-9. PMID 21215265.

  8. Renaud SJ, Cotechini T, Quirt JS, Macdonald-Goodfellow SK, Othman M, and Graham CH. Spontaneous pregnancy loss mediated by abnormal maternal inflammation in rats is linked to deficient uteroplacental perfusion. J Immunol. 2011 186(3):1799-808. PMID 21187445.

  9. Renaud SJ, Karim Rumi MA, and Soares MJ. Genetic manipulation of the rodent placenta. Placenta. 2011 32 Suppl 2:S130-5. PMID 21256588.