Placental trophoblasts form the interface between the fetal and maternal environments and serve to limit the maternal-fetal spread of viruses. Here we show that cultured primary human placental trophoblasts are highly resistant to infection by a number of viruses and, importantly, confer this resistance to nonplacental recipient cells by exosome-mediated delivery of specific micro-RNAs (miRNAs). We show that miRNA members of the chromosome 19 miRNA cluster, which are almost exclusively expressed in the human placenta, are packaged within trophoblast-derived exosomes and attenuate viral replication in recipient cells by the induction of autophagy. Together, our findings identify an unprecedented paracrine and/or systemic function of placental trophoblasts that uses exosome-mediated transfer of a unique set of placental-specific effector miRNAs to directly communicate with placental or maternal target cells and regulate their immunity to viral infections.
During mammalian pregnancy, the placenta acts as a barrier between the maternal and fetal compartments. The recently observed association between Zika virus (ZIKV) infection during human pregnancy and fetal microcephaly and other anomalies suggests that ZIKV may bypass the placenta to reach the fetus. This led us to investigate ZIKV infection of primary human trophoblasts (PHTs), which are the barrier cells of the placenta. We discovered that PHT cells from full-term placentas are refractory to ZIKV infection. In addition, medium from uninfected PHT cells protects non-placental cells from ZIKV infection. PHT cells constitutively release the type III interferon (IFN) IFNλ1, which functions in both a paracrine and autocrine manner to protect trophoblast and non-trophoblast cells from ZIKV infection. Our data suggest that for ZIKV to access the fetal compartment, it must evade restriction by trophoblast-derived IFNλ1 and other trophoblast-specific antiviral factors and/or use alternative strategies to cross the placental barrier. Bayer et al. find that primary human placental trophoblasts are refractory to ZIKV infection due to their constitutive release of antiviral type III interferons, which also serves to protect non-placental cells. These data suggest that rather than directly infecting the placenta, ZIKV likely uses alternative strategies to cross the placenta.
Invading human leukocyte antigen-G+ (HLA-G+) extravillous trophoblasts (EVT) are rare cells that are believed to play a key role in the prevention of a maternal immune attack on foreign fetal tissues. Here highly purified HLA-G+ EVT and HLA‐G− villous trophoblasts (VT) were isolated. Culture on fibronectin that EVT encounter on invading the uterus increased HLA-G, EGF-Receptor-2, and LIF-Receptor expression on EVT, presumably representing a further differentiation state. Microarray and functional gene set enrichment analysis revealed a striking immune-activating potential for EVT that was absent in VT. Cocultures of HLA-G+ EVT with sample matched decidual natural killer cells (dNK), macrophages, and CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were established. Interaction of EVT with CD4+ T cells resulted in increased numbers of CD4+CD25 FOXP3+CD45RA+ resting regulatory T cells (Treg) and increased the expression level of the Treg-specific transcription factor FOXP3 in these cells. However, EVT did not enhance cytokine secretion in dNK, whereas stimulation of dNK with mitogens or classical natural killer targets confirmed the distinct cytokine secretion profiles of dNK and peripheral blood NK cells (pNK). EVT are specialized cells involved in maternal–fetal tolerance, the properties of which are not imitated by HLA-G−expressing surrogate cell lines.
Trophoblast cells play an essential role in the interactions between the fetus and mother. Mouse trophoblast stem (TS) cells have been derived and used as the best model for molecular and functional analysis of mouse trophoblast lineages, but attempts to derive human TS cells have so far been unsuccessful. Here we show that activation of Wingless/Integrated (Wnt) and EGF and inhibition of TGF-β, histone deacetylase (HDAC), and Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) enable long-term culture of human villous cytotrophoblast (CT) cells. The resulting cell lines have the capacity to give rise to the three major trophoblast lineages, which show transcriptomes similar to those of the corresponding primary trophoblast cells. Importantly, equivalent cell lines can be derived from human blastocysts. Our data strongly suggest that the CT- and blastocyst-derived cell lines are human TS cells, which will provide a powerful tool to study human trophoblast development and function. Trophoblast cells are specialized cells in the placenta that mediate the interactions between the fetus and mother. Okae et al. report the derivation of human trophoblast stem cells from blastocysts and early placentas, which will provide a powerful tool to study human placental development and function.
Does A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase 8 (ADAM8) control extravillous trophoblast (EVT) differentiation and migration in early human placental development? ADAM8 mRNA preferentially localizes to invasive HLA-G-positive trophoblasts, associates with the acquirement of an EVT phenotype and promotes trophoblast migration through a mechanism requiring β1-integrin. Placental establishment in the first trimester of pregnancy requires the differentiation of progenitor trophoblasts into invasive EVTs that produce a diverse repertoire of proteases that facilitate matrix remodeling and activation of signaling pathways important in controlling cell migration. While multiple ADAM proteases, including ADAM8, are highly expressed by invasive trophoblasts, the role of ADAM8 in controlling EVT-related processes is unknown. First trimester placental villi and decidua (6-12 weeks' gestation), primary trophoblasts and trophoblastic cell lines (JEG3, JAR, Bewo, HTR8/SVNeo) were used to examine ADAM8 expression, localization and function. All experiments were performed on at least three independent occasions (n = 3). Placental villi and primary trophoblasts derived from IRB approved first trimester placental (n = 24) and decidual (n = 4) were used to examine ADAM8 localization and expression by in situ RNAScope hybridization, flow cytometry, quantitative PCR and immunoblot analyses. Primary trophoblasts were differentiated into EVT-like cells by plating on fibronectin and were assessed by immunofluorescence microscopy and immunoblot analysis of keratin-7, vimentin, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), HLA-G and ADAM8. ADAM8 function was examined in primary EVTs and trophoblastic cell lines utilizing siRNA-directed silencing and over-expression strategies. Trophoblast migration was assessed using Transwell chambers, cell-matrix binding was tested using fibronectin-adhesion assays, and ADAM8-β1-integrin interactions were determined by immunofluorescence microscopy, co-immunoprecipitation experiments and function-promoting/inhibiting antibodies. Within first trimester placental tissues, ADAM8 preferentially localized to HLA-G+ trophoblasts residing within anchoring columns and decidua. Functional experiments in primary trophoblasts and trophoblastic cell lines show that ADAM8 promotes trophoblast migration through a mechanism independent of intrinsic protease activity. We show that ADAM8 localizes to peri-nuclear and cell-membrane actin-rich structures during cell-matrix attachment and promotes trophoblast binding to fibronectin matrix. Moreover, ADAM8 potentiates β1-integrin activation and promotes cell migration through a mechanism dependent on β1-integrin function. The primary limitation of this study was the use of in vitro experiments in examining ADAM8 function, as well as the implementation of immortalized trophoblastic cell lines. Histological localization of ADAM8 within placental and decidual tissue sections was limited to mRNA level analysis. Further, patient information corresponding to tissues obtained by elective terminations was not available. The novel non-proteolytic pro-migratory role for ADAM8 in controlling trophoblast migration revealed by this study sheds insight into the importance of ADAM8 in EVT biology and placental development. This work was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC-Discovery Grant) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR-Open Operating Grant). There are no conflicts or competing interests. NA.
In pregnancy, trophoblast invasion and uterine spiral artery remodelling are important for lowering maternal vascular resistance and increasing uteroplacental blood flow. Impaired spiral artery remodelling has been implicated in pre-eclampsia, a major complication of pregnancy, for a long time but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear(1,2). Corin (also known as atrial natriuretic peptide-converting enzyme) is a cardiac protease that activates atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), a cardiac hormone that is important in regulating blood pressure(3). Unexpectedly, corin expression was detected in the pregnant uterus(4). Here we identify a new function of corin and ANP in promoting trophoblast invasion and spiral artery remodelling. We show that pregnant corin-or ANP-deficient mice developed high blood pressure and proteinuria, characteristics of pre-eclampsia. In these mice, trophoblast invasion and uterine spiral artery remodelling were markedly impaired. Consistent with this, the ANP potently stimulated human trophoblasts in invading Matrigels. In patients with pre-eclampsia, uterine Corin messenger RNA and protein levels were significantly lower than that in normal pregnancies. Moreover, we have identified Corin gene mutations inpre-eclamptic patients, which decreased corin activity in processing pro-ANP. These results indicate that corin and ANP are essential for physiological changes at the maternal-fetal interface, suggesting that defects in corin and ANP function may contribute to pre-eclampsia.
In this study, we performed small RNA library sequencing using human placental tissues to identify placenta-specific miRNAs. We also tested the hypothesis that human chorionic villi could secrete miRNAs extracellularly via exosomes, which in turn enter into maternal circulation. By small RNA library sequencing, most placenta-specific miRNAs (e.g., MIR517A ) were linked to a miRNA cluster on chromosome 19. The miRNA cluster genes were differentially expressed in placental development. Subsequent validation by real-time PCR and in situ hybridization revealed that villous trophoblasts express placenta-specific miRNAs. The analysis of small RNA libraries from the blood plasma showed that the placenta-specific miRNAs are abundant in the plasma of pregnant women. By real-time PCR, we confirmed the rapid clearance of the placenta-specific miRNAs from the plasma after delivery, indicating that such miRNAs enter into maternal circulation. By using the trophoblast cell line BeWo in culture, we demonstrated that miRNAs are indeed extracellularly released via exosomes. Taken together, our findings suggest that miRNAs are exported from the human placental syncytiotrophoblast into maternal circulation, where they could target maternal tissues. Finally, to address the biological functions of placenta-specific miRNAs, we performed a proteome analysis of BeWo cells transfected with MIR517A . Bioinformatic analysis suggests that this miRNA is possibly involved in tumor necrosis factor-mediated signaling. Our data provide important insights into miRNA biology of the human placenta.
STUDY QUESTION What are the effects of fatty acids on placental inflammatory cytokine with respect to toll-like receptor-4/nuclear factor-kappa B (TLR4/NF-kB)? SUMMARY ANSWER Exogenous fatty acids induce a pro-inflammatory cytokine response in human placental cells in vitro via activation of TLR4 signaling pathways. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY The placenta is exposed to changes in circulating maternal fatty acid concentrations throughout pregnancy. Fatty acids are master regulators of innate immune pathways through recruitment of toll-like receptors and activation of cytokine synthesis. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION Trophoblast cells isolated from 14 normal term human placentas were incubated with long chain fatty acids (FA) of different carbon length and degree of saturation. The expression and secretion of interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-8 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) were measured by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Antibodies against TLR4 ligand binding domain, downstream signaling and anti-p65 NFkB-inhibitor were used to characterize the pathways of FA action. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS General approach used primary human term trophoblast cell culture. Methods and end-points used real-time quantitative PCR, cytokine measurements, immunohistochemistry, western blots. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE The long chain saturated fatty acids, stearic and palmitic (PA), stimulated the synthesis as well as the release of TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-8 by trophoblast cells (2- to 6-fold, P < 0.001). In contrast, the unsaturated (palmitoleic, oleic, linoleic) acids did not modify cytokine expression significantly. Palmitate-induced inflammatory effects were mediated via TLR4 activation, NF-kB phosphorylation and nuclear translocation. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION TNF-α protein level was close to the limit of detection in the culture medium even when cells were cultured with PA. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS These mechanisms open the way to a better understanding of how changes in maternal lipid homeostasis may regulate placental inflammatory status. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S) X.Y. was recipient of fellowship award from West China Second University Hospital, Sichuan University (NIH HD 22965-19). The authors have nothing else to disclose. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER None.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can interfere with normal hormone signaling to increase health risks to the maternal fetal system, yet few studies have been conducted on the currently used chiral EDCs. This work tested the hypothesis that pyrethroids could enantioselectively interfere with trophoblast cells. Cell viability, hormone secretion, and steroidogenesis gene expression of a widely used pyrethroid, bifenthrin (BF), were evaluated in vitro, and the interactions of BF enantiomers with estrogen receptor (ER) were predicted. At low or noncytotoxic concentrations, both progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin secretion were induced. The expression levels of progesterone receptor and human leukocyte antigen G genes were significantly stimulated. The key regulators of the hormonal cascade, GnRH type-I and its receptor, were both upregulated. The expression levels of selected steroidogenic genes were also significantly altered. Moreover, a consistent enantioselective interference of hormone signaling was observed, and S-BF had greater effects than R-BF. Using molecular docking, the enantioselective endocrine disruption of BF was predicted to be partially due to enantiospecific ER binding affinity. Thus, BF could act through ER to enantioselectively disturb the hormonal network in trophoblast cells. These converging results suggest that the currently used chiral pesticides are of significant concern with respect to maternal fetal health.