BACKGROUND Routes of trophoblast invasion seem to be clear, whereas specific invasive pathways need further elucidation. Extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs) transform spiral arteries to guarantee appropriate blood flow to the placenta in the second trimester. Embryo nutrition during the first trimester is thought to be histiotrophic, whereas proof that EVTs also invade uterine glands is lacking. We developed novel three-dimensional confrontation co-culture models to elucidate invasion of EVTs into uterine glands. METHODS First trimester decidua parietalis and placental villous explants were directly confronted and co-cultured for 72 h, or confronted indirectly after 72 h pre-culture for re-epithelialization of decidua pieces. Cryosections were stained by immunohistochemistry or immunofluorescent/immunohistochemical double labelling and compared with first trimester placentation sites in situ. RESULTS EVTs deeply invaded decidual tissues in direct confrontation assays and were found between the decidual epithelial cells and epithelial basement membrane. EVTs were also detected in the decidual stroma in direct proximity to glands, sometimes even replacing glandular epithelial cells. Similar observations were made in sections from the first trimester decidua/placental bed. In the invaded parts of sections of decidua basalis, 55% ± 7% (mean ± SEM; n = 10, range 6–11 weeks) of glandular cross sections were associated with or infiltrated by EVTs. CONCLUSIONS Using novel confrontation co-culture assays, a potential new route of EVT invasion was detected. EVTs appear to break through the basement membrane of uterine glands to open their lumen towards the intervillous space. These data support the hypothesis of histiotrophic nutrition of the embryo prior to onset of maternal blood flow within the placenta.
Abstract Invasive, extravillous trophoblasts (EVT) of the human placenta are critically involved in successful pregnancy outcome since they remodel the uterine spiral arteries to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to the placenta and the developing fetus. To gain more insights into their biological role different primary cell culture models are commonly utilised. However, access to early placental tissue may be limited and primary trophoblasts rapidly cease proliferation in vitro impairing genetic manipulation. Hence, trophoblastic cell lines have been widely used as surrogates to study EVT function. Although the cell lines share some molecular markers with their primary counterpart, it is unknown to what extent they recapitulate the invasive phenotype of EVT. Therefore, we here report the first thorough GeneChip analyses of SGHPL-5, HTR-8/SVneo, BeWo, JEG-3 and the novel ACH-3P trophoblast cells in comparison to previously analysed primary villous cytotrophoblasts (CTBs) and extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs). Analyses of approximately 14,000 commonly expressed genes revealed that EVTs most closely resemble CTBs with considerable differences to the group of choriocarcinoma cells (JEG-3, BeWo, ACH-3P) and the group of SV40 Large T Antigen-selected cell types (SGHPL-5, HTR-8/SVneo). Similarly, analyses of 912 genes discriminating EVT from CTB, or 370 EVT-specific genes did not unravel a particular cell line with close similarity to any of the primary cell types, although molecular signatures common to EVT and each group of cell lines could be identified. Considering the diversity of mRNA expression patterns it is suggested that molecular studies in trophoblast cell lines require verification of the critical steps in an appropriate primary model system.
Objective Preimplantation factor is a novel embryo-derived peptide that influences key processes in early pregnancy implantation, including immunity, adhesion, remodeling, and apoptosis. Herein, we explore the effects of synthetic preimplantation factor on trophoblast invasion. Study Design Invasion patterns of immortalized cultured HTR-8 trophoblast cells were analyzed through Matrigel extracellular matrix ± synthetic preimplantation factor (25-100 nM) in a transwell assay. Effects were compared with epidermal growth factor 10 μg/mL, scrambled aminoacid sequence of preimplantation factor, or media alone as controls. Results Synthetic preimplantation factor enhances trophoblast invasion at physiologic doses (at 50 nM, 260%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 174–346%; P = .05; 100 nM ,178%; 95% CI, 170–184%; P < .02), compared with scrambled amnioacid sequence preimplantation factor or control media. Epidermal growth factor added to synthetic preimplantation factor does not further enhance trophoblast invasion (synthetic preimplantation factor 50 nM + epidermal growth factor, 238%; 95% CI, 237–239%; P < .03; synthetic preimplantation factor 100 nM + epidermal growth factor 269%; 95% CI, 265–273%; P < .04). Conclusion Preimplantation factor should be further investigated as it shows a potential preventative or therapeutic role for pregnancy complications associated with inadequate trophoblast invasion.
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are present in the genome of all vertebrates and originated from infections of the germline of the host by exogenous retroviruses. ERVs have coevolved with their hosts for millions of years and are recognized to contribute to genome plasticity, protect the host against infection of related pathogenic and exogenous retroviruses, and play a vital role in development of the placenta. Consequently, some ERVs have been positively selected and maintained in the host genome throughout evolution. This review will focus on the critical role of ERVs in development of the mammalian placenta and specifically highlight the biological role of sheep JSRV-related endogenous betaretroviruses in conceptus (embryo and associated extraembryonic membranes) development.
The first definitive cell fate decision in development occurs at the blastocyst stage with establishment of the trophoblast and embryonic cell lineages. In the mouse, lineage commitment is achieved by epigenetic regulation of a critical gatekeeper gene, the transcription factor Elf5, that reinforces placental cell fate and is necessary for trophoblast stem (TS) cell self-renewal. In humans, however, the epigenetic lineage boundary seems to be less stringent since human embryonic stem (ES) cells, unlike their murine counterparts, harbour some potential to differentiate into trophoblast derivatives. Here, we show that ELF5 is expressed in the human placenta in villous cytotrophoblast cells but not in post-mitotic syncytiotrophoblast and invasive extravillous cytotrophoblast cells. ELF5 establishes a circuit of mutually interacting transcription factors with CDX2 and EOMES, and the highly proliferative ELF5(+)/CDX2(+) double-positive subset of cytotrophoblast cells demarcates a putative TS cell compartment in the early human placenta. In contrast to placental trophoblast, however, ELF5 is hypermethylated and largely repressed in human ES cells and derived trophoblast cell lines, as well as in induced pluripotent stem cells and murine epiblast stem cells. Thus, these cells exhibit an embryonic lineage-specific epigenetic signature and do not undergo an epigenetic reprogramming to reflect the trophoblast lineage at key loci such as ELF5. Our identification of the trophoblast-specific transcriptional circuit established by ELF5 will be instrumental to derive human TS cell lines that truly reflect early placental trophoblast and that will be most beneficial to gain insights into the aetiology of common pregnancy complications, including intra-uterine growth restriction and pre-eclampsia.
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 de...
Abstract Measuring trophoblast function involves performing end-point assays that represent the response at a single time point. New technology from Roche Applied Science enables continuous monitoring of cells in real-time using specialized culture dishes containing micro-electrodes. The xCELLigence System allows continuous measurement and quantification of cell adhesion, proliferation, migration and invasion, thus creating a true picture of trophoblast function. Lag and log growth phases can be determined thus pinpointing optimal times to treat and harvest cells. Use of this system will provide valuable insights into trophoblast functions as well as the behaviour of other cell types found at the maternal–fetal interface.
Abstract The earliest stages of trophoblast differentiation are of tremendous importance to mediate implantation and to lay the anatomical foundations for normal placental development and function throughout gestation. Yet our molecular insights into these early developmental processes in humans have been limited by the inaccessibility of material and the unavailability of trophoblast cell lines that fully recapitulate the behaviour of early placental trophoblast. In this review we highlight recent advances that have come from the study of distinct stem cell types representative of the embryonic and extraembryonic lineages in the mouse, and from the study of mouse mutants. These models have revealed the presence of intricate transcriptional networks that are set up by signalling pathways, translating extracellular growth factor and cell positional information into distinct lineage-specific transcriptional programmes. The trophoblast specificity of these networks is ensured by epigenetic mechanisms including DNA methylation and histone modifications that complement each other to define trophoblast cell fate and differentiation. Despite the anatomical differences between mouse and human placentas, it seems that important aspects of early trophoblast specification are conserved between both species. Thus we may be able to build on our insights from the mouse to better understand early trophoblast differentiation in the human conceptus which is important for improving assisted reproductive technologies and may enable us in the future to derive human trophoblast stem cell lines. These advances will facilitate the investigation of genetic, epigenetic and environmental influences on early trophoblast differentiation in normal as well as in pathological conditions.
In most mammals, placentation is critical for fetal development and pregnancy success. Exposure to marijuana during pregnancy has adverse effects, but whether the placenta is a target of cannabinoid/endocannabinoid signaling is not known. Using mice as a model system, we found that the endocannabinoid system is present in the ectoplacental cone and spongiotrophoblast cells. We also observed that aberrant endocannabinoid signaling confers premature trophoblast stem cell differentiation, and defective trophoblast development and invasion. These defects are reflected in retarded fetal development and compromised pregnancy outcome. Because the endocannabinoid system is conserved in mice and humans, our study suggests that endocannabinoid signaling is critical to placentation and pregnancy success in humans and implicates its potential significance in stem cell biology.
Abstract Maternal obesity and gestational diabetes (GDM) are conditions associated with fetal overgrowth and excessive fat accumulation in the fetus, implicating an increased placental nutrient transfer in these pregnancies. Obese and GDM mothers have altered metabolism and hormone levels, including elevation of maternal circulatory lipids and pro-inflammatory cytokines. We tested the hypothesis that interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α stimulate placental fatty acid transport, as these pro-inflammatory cytokines have been shown to affect lipid metabolism in other tissues. In cultured primary human trophoblast cells IL-6, but not TNF-α, stimulated fatty acid accumulation, as measured by BODIPY fluorescence. The increased fatty acid accumulation could not be explained by an increased expression of key components in placental fatty acid transport, such as adipophilin, fatty acid transport protein (FATP)1, FATP4, or lipoprotein lipase. In a cohort of lean and overweight/obese pregnant women, increasing maternal third trimester IL-6 plasma concentrations correlated with decreasing placental lipoprotein lipase activity. However, as no effect on lipoprotein lipase activity was observed in cultured trophoblast cells after exposure to either IL-6 or TNF-α, the correlation between maternal circulatory IL-6 levels and placental lipoprotein lipase activity at term is unlikely to represent a cause-and-effect relationship. In conclusion, high levels of IL-6 stimulate trophoblast fatty acid accumulation, which could contribute to an excessive nutrient transfer in conditions associated with elevated maternal IL-6 such as obesity and gestational diabetes.