Fetal growth restriction (FGR), which most commonly results from suboptimal placental function, substantially increases risks for adverse perinatal and long-term outcomes. The only “treatment” that exists is delivery, which averts stillbirth but does not improve outcomes in survivors. Furthermore, the potential long-term consequences of FGR to the fetus, including cardiometabolic disorders, predispose these individuals to developing FGR in their future pregnancies. This creates a multi-generational cascade of adverse effects stemming from a single dysfunctional placenta, and understanding the mechanisms underlying placental-mediated FGR is critically important if we are to improve outcomes and overall health. The mechanisms behind FGR remain unknown. However, placental insufficiency derived from maldevelopment of the placental vascular systems is the most common etiology. To highlight important mechanistic interactions within the placenta, we focus on placental vascular development in the setting of FGR. We delve into fetoplacental angiogenesis, a robust and ongoing process in normal pregnancies that is impaired in severe FGR. We review cellular models of FGR, with special attention to fetoplacental angiogenesis, and we highlight novel integrin-extracellular matrix interactions that regulate placental angiogenesis in severe FGR. In total, this review focuses on key developmental processes, with specific focus on the human placenta, an underexplored area of research.

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