The emerging field of circular RNAs (circRNAs) has identified their novel roles in the development and function of many cancers and inspired the interest of many researchers. circRNAs are also found throughout the healthy body, as well as in other pathological states, but while research into the function and abundance of circRNAs has progressed, our overall understanding of these molecules remains primitive. Importantly, recent studies are elucidating new roles for circRNAs in pregnancy, particularly in the placenta. Given that many of the genes responsible for circRNA production in cancer are also highly expressed in the placenta, it is likely that the same genes act in the production of circRNAs in the placenta. Furthermore, placental development can be referred to as ‘controlled cancer’, as it shares many key signalling pathways and hallmarks with tumour growth and metastasis. Hence, the roles of circRNAs in this field are important to study with respect to pregnancy success but also may provide novel insights for cancer progression. This review illuminates the known roles of circRNAs in pregnancy and the placenta, as well as demonstrating differential placental expressions of circRNAs between complicated and uncomplicated pregnancies.
- circular RNA