This review summarises current knowledge about the specification, commitment and maintenance of the trophoblast lineage in mice and cattle. Results from gene expression studies, in vivo loss-of-function models and in vitro systems using trophoblast and embryonic stem cells have been assimilated into a model seeking to explain trophoblast ontogeny via gene regulatory networks. While trophoblast differentiation is quite distinct between cattle and mice, as would be expected from their different modes of implantation, recent studies have demonstrated that differences arise much earlier during trophoblast development. Reproduction (2012) 143 231-246
Trophoblast stem cells (TSC) are the precursors of the differentiated cells of the placenta. In the mouse, TSC can be derived from outgrowths of either blastocyst polar trophectoderm (TE) or extraembryonic ectoderm (ExE), which originates from polar TE after implantation. The mouse TSC niche appears to be located within the ExE adjacent to the epiblast, on which it depends for essential growth factors, but whether this cellular architecture is the same in other species remains to be determined. Mouse TSC self-renewal can be sustained by culture on mitotically inactivated feeder cells, which provide one or more factors related to the NODAL pathway, and a medium supplemented with FGF4, heparin, and fetal bovine serum. Repression of the gene network that maintains pluripotency and emergence of the transcription factor pathways that specify a trophoblast (TR) fate enables TSC derivation in vitro and placental formation in vivo. Disrupting the pluripotent network of embryonic stem cells (ESC) causes them to default to a TR ground state. Pluripotent cells that have acquired sublethal chromosomal alterations may be sequestered into TR for similar reasons. The transition from ESC to TSC, which appears to be unidirectional, reveals important aspects of initial fate decisions in mice. TSC have yet to be derived from domestic species in which remarkable TR growth precedes embryogenesis. Recent derivation of TSC from blastocysts of the rhesus monkey suggests that isolation of the human equivalents may be possible and will reveal the extent to which mechanisms uncovered by using animal models are true in our own species.
At the time of implantation, the trophoblast cells of the embryo adhere and then invade into the maternal endometrium and eventually establish placentation. The endometrium at the same time undergoes decidualization, which is essential for successful pregnancy. While the NK cells of the decidua have been implicated to play a key role in trophoblast invasion, few evidence are now available to demonstrate a pro‐invasive property of decidual stromal cells. Secretions from decidualized endometrial stromal cells promote invasion of primary trophoblasts and model cell lines by activating proteases and altering expression of adhesion‐related molecules. The decidual secretions contain high amounts of pro‐invasive factors that include IL‐1β, IL‐5, IL‐6, IL‐7, IL‐8, IL‐9, IL‐13, IL‐15, Eotaxin CCL11, IP‐10 and RANTES, and anti‐invasive factors IL‐10, IL‐12 and VEGF. It appears that these decidual factors promote invasion by regulating the protease pathways and integrin expression utilizing the STAT pathways in the trophoblast cells. At the same time the decidua also seem to secrete some anti‐invasive factors that are antagonist to the matrix metalloproteinases and/or are activators of tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases. This might be essential to neutralize the effects of the invasion‐promoting factors and restrain overinvasion. It is tempting to propose that during the course of pregnancy, the decidua must balance the production of these pro and anti‐invasive molecules and such harmonizing production would allow a timely and regulated invasion.
Abstract Oxygen is necessary for life yet too much or too little oxygen is toxic to cells. The oxygen tension in the maternal plasma bathing placental villi is <20 mm Hg until 10–12 weeks’ gestation, rising to 40–80 mm Hg and remaining in this range throughout the second and third trimesters. Maldevelopment of the maternal spiral arteries in the first trimester predisposes to placental dysfunction and sub-optimal pregnancy outcomes in the second half of pregnancy. Although low oxygen at the site of early placental development is the norm, controversy is intense when investigators interpret how defective transformation of spiral arteries leads to placental dysfunction during the second and third trimesters. Moreover, debate rages as to what oxygen concentrations should be considered normal and abnormal for use in vitro to model villous responses in vivo. The placenta may be injured in the second half of pregnancy by hypoxia, but recent evidence shows that ischemia with reoxygenation and mechanical damage due to high flow contributes to the placental dysfunction of diverse pregnancy disorders. We overview normal and pathologic development of the placenta, consider variables that influence experiments in vitro , and discuss the hotly debated question of what in vitro oxygen percentage reflects the normal and abnormal oxygen concentrations that occur in vivo . We then describe our studies that show cultured villous trophoblasts undergo apoptosis and autophagy with phenotype-related differences in response to hypoxia.
Extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs) migrate into uterine decidua and induce vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) loss through mechanisms thought to involve migration and apoptosis, achieving complete spiral artery remodeling. Long noncoding RNA maternally expressed gene 3 (MEG3) can regulate diverse cellular processes, such as proliferation and migration, and has been discovered highly expressed in human placenta tissues. However, little is known about the role of MEG3 in modulating EVT functions and EVT‐induced VSMC loss. In this study, we first examined the location of MEG3 in human first‐trimester placenta by in situ hybridization. Then, exogenous upregulation of MEG3 in HTR‐8/SVneo cells was performed to investigate the effects of MEG3 on EVT motility and EVT capacity to displace VSMCs. Meanwhile, the molecules mediating EVT‐induced VSMC loss, such as tumor necrosis factor‐α (TNF‐α), Fas ligand (FasL), and tumor necrosis factor‐α‐related apoptosis‐inducing ligand (TRAIL) were detected at transcriptional and translational levels. Finally, VSMCs were cocultured with MEG3‐upregulated HTR‐8/SVneo to explore the role of MEG3 on EVT‐mediated VSMC migration and apoptosis. Results showed that MEG3 was expressed in trophoblasts in placental villi and decidua, and MEG3 enhancement inhibited HTR‐8/SVneo migration and invasion. Meanwhile, the displacement of VSMCs by HTR‐8/SVneo and the expression of TNF‐α, FasL and TRAIL in HTR‐8/SVneo were reduced following MEG3 overexpression in HTR‐8/SVneo. Furthermore, HTR‐8/SVneo with MEG3 upregulation impaired VSMC migration and apoptosis. The PI3K/Akt pathway, which is possibly downstream, was inactivated in MEG3‐upregulated HTR‐8/SVneo. These findings suggest that MEG3 might be a negative regulator of spiral artery remodeling via suppressing EVT invasion and EVT‐mediated VSMC loss. Maternally expressed gene 3 (MEG3) suppressed trophoblast‐mediated vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) migration and apoptosis, which might be associated with reduced expression of tumor necrosis factor‐α (TNF‐α), Fas ligand (FasL), and tumor necrosis factor‐α‐related apoptosis‐inducing ligand (TRAIL) in trophoblast with MEG3 enhancement.
Abstract Placental stress has been implicated in the pathophysiology of complications of pregnancy, including growth restriction and pre-eclampsia. Initially, attention focused on oxidative stress, but recently mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum stress have been identified. Complex molecular interactions exist among these different forms of stress, making it unlikely that any occurs in isolation. In part, this is due to close physiological connections between the two organelles principally involved, mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), mediated through Ca2+ signalling. Here, we review the involvement of the mitochondria-ER unit in the generation of stress within the trophoblast, and consider consequences for obstetric outcome. Mild stress may induce adaptive responses, including upregulation of antioxidant defences and autophagy, while moderate levels may affect stem cell behaviour and reduce cell proliferation, contributing to the growth-restricted phenotype. High levels of stress can stimulate release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and anti-angiogenic factors, increasing the risk of pre-eclampsia. In addition, chronic stress may promote senescence of the trophoblast, which in other cell types leads to a pro-inflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype. Evidence from rodents suggests that a degree of trophoblastic stress develops with increasing gestational age in normal pregnancies. The increase in maternal concentrations of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1) and reduction in placental growth factor (PlGF) suggest the same may occur in the human, starting around 30 weeks of pregnancy. Placental malperfusion, or co-existing maternal conditions, such as diabetes, will exacerbate that stress. Amelioration of trophoblastic stress should remain a research priority, but will be difficult due to the complexity of the molecular pathways involved.
Abstract At the tips of anchoring villi, cytotrophoblast (CTB) proliferation leads to a process of multilayering in which cells lose their attachment to the villous basement membrane and develop into columns, within which they adhere to one another using desmosomes, with associated intermediate filament bundles. Non-desmosomal cadherins, tight junction proteins and other adhesion molecules are also present, suggesting that actin-associated adhesions contribute to placental anchorage. In the distal columns, cell–cell interactions diminish, cells upregulate β1 integrins and bind to a provisional fibrinoid extracellular matrix, eventually detaching to migrate into the decidual stroma and myometrium, where interstitial and endovascular extravillous trophoblast (EVT) populations show distinct repertoires of adhesion molecules.
Abstract In the placental villus, cells attach to basement membrane via integrin α6β4 and adhere both laterally and apically to their neighbours. The most prominent adhesive specialisation seen using the electron microscope is the desmosome, which connects cytotrophoblast cells (CTB) laterally and also contributes to the attachment of CTB to the overlying syncytium. However, numerous cadherins and other junctional proteins are also present in the corresponding plasma membrane domains, indicating a multiplicity of adhesive interactions. Integrins, tight junction components and cadherins are all found in the syncytial microvillous membrane, perhaps reflecting its ability to form intersyncytial bridges. There is a wide gulf to be filled between molecular anatomy and functional studies, with much to be learned about the role of adhesion molecules in regulating villous epithelial integrity, homeostasis and growth.
The proteins galectin-1 and Progesterone Induced Blocking Factor (PIBF) are present on human and murine trophoblast and are thought to influence both immunomodulation and trophoblast invasion. In equids, the invasive component of the placenta, the endometrial cups, stimulate maternal cell-mediated and humoral immune responses. It was therefore of interest to know if galectin-1 or PIBF could be immunolocalised to the invasive and/or non-invasive components of the equine placenta. Horse and mule (♀ horse X ♂ donkey) embryos and placental tissues between Days 12 and 124 of gestation were stained immunohistochemically with antibodies raised against galectin-1 and PIBF. Galectin-1 stained the non-invasive trophoblast between Days 15 and 20 but thereafter stained only the invasive trophoblast cells of the chorionic girdle, both before and after they invaded the endometrium to form the endometrial cups. PIBF, on the other hand, stained both the invasive and non-invasive trophoblast throughout the period of gestation studied. Of particular interest was the relative lack of staining of the endometrial cup cells in mule compared to horse pregnancies for galectin-1 and PIBF prior to the earlier and more rapid death and desquamation of the mule cup cells. The expression of galectin-1 and PIBF proteins in equine trophoblast and the marked difference in lifespan between the endometrial cups in intraspecies horse versus interspecies mule pregnancies support a likely role for these two proteins protecting the fetal trophoblast from maternal immune attack and/or modulation of the invasiveness of endometrial cup cells.
Abstract Despite the high incidence of trophoblast-related diseases, the molecular mechanism of inadequate early trophoblast development is still unclear due to the lack of an appropriate cellular model in vitro. In the present study, we reprogrammed the amniotic cells to be induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) via a non-virus and non-integrated method and subsequently differentiated them into trophoblast-like cells by a modified BMP4 strategy in E6 medium. Compared with the previously studied trophoblast-like cells from ESCs, the iPSCs derived trophoblast-like cells behave similarly in terms of gene expression profiles and biofunctions. Also we confirmed the differentiating tendency from iPSCs to be syncytiotrophoblasts-like cells might be caused by inappropriate differentiating oxygen condition. Additionally, we preliminarily indicated in vitro “artificial” differentiation of iPSCs also undergoing a possible trophoblastic stem cell stage, as witnessed in vivo. In conclusion, we provided an in vitro cellular model to study early trophoblast development for specific individual, by using the feasible amnion.