Review: Oxygen and trophoblast biology--a source of controversy.
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.
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ABSTRACT: Unexplained intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) may be a consequence of placental insufficiency; however, its etiology is not fully understood. We surmised that defective placentation in IUGR dysregulates cellular bioenergic homeostasis, leading to increased autophagy in the villous trophoblast. The aims of this work were (1) to compare the differences in autophagy, p53 expression, and apoptosis between placentas of women with normal or IUGR pregnancies; (2) to study the effects of hypoxia and the role of p53 in regulating trophoblast autophagy; and (3) to investigate the relationship between autophagy and apoptosis in hypoxic trophoblasts. Compared with normal pregnant women, women with IUGR had higher placental levels of autophagy-related proteins LC3B-II, beclin-1, and damage-regulated autophagy modulator (DRAM), with increased p53 and caspase-cleaved cytokeratin 18 (M30). Furthermore, cytotrophoblasts cultured under hypoxia (2% oxygen) in the presence or absence of nutlin-3 (a p53 activity stimulator) had higher levels of LC3B-II, DRAM, and M30 proteins and increased Bax mRNA expression compared with controls cultured under standard conditions. In contrast, administration of pifithrin-α (a p53 activity inhibitor) during hypoxia resulted in protein levels that were similar to those of the control groups. Moreover, cytotrophoblasts transfected with LC3B, beclin-1, or DRAM siRNA had higher levels of M30 compared with the controls under hypoxia. However, transfection with Bcl-2 or Bax siRNA did not cause any significant change in the levels of LC3B-II in hypoxic cytotrophoblasts. Together, these results suggest that there is a crosstalk between autophagy and apoptosis in IUGR and that p53 plays a pivotal and complex role in regulating trophoblast cell turnover in response to hypoxic stress.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e40957. · 4.09 Impact Factor
Article: Natural killer cells direct hemochorial placentation by regulating hypoxia-inducible factor dependent trophoblast lineage decisions.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Natural killer (NK) cells are recruited into the uterine stroma during establishment of the hemochorial placenta and are proposed regulators of uterine spiral artery remodeling. Failures in uterine spiral artery remodeling are linked to diseases of pregnancy. This prompted an investigation of the involvement of NK cells in placentation. NK cell depletion decreased the delivery of proangiogenic factors and delayed uterine spiral artery development, leading to decreased oxygen tension at the placentation site, stabilized hypoxia-inducible factor 1A protein, and redirected trophoblast differentiation to an invasive phenotype. Trophoblast cells replaced the endothelium of uterine spiral arteries extending the depth of the placental vascular bed and accelerating vessel remodeling. Hypoxia-regulated trophoblast lineage decisions, including expansion of invasive trophoblast, could be reproduced in vitro by using rat trophoblast stem cells and were dependent on hypoxia-inducible factor signaling. We conclude that NK cells guide hemochorial placentation through controlling a hypoxia-sensitive adaptive reflex regulating trophoblast lineage decisions.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2011; 108(39):16295-300. · 9.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Autophagy is a highly regulated and dynamic process that maintains cellular homeostasis and plays a prosurvival role in most cells. Although hypoxia has been shown to induce apoptosis in placental trophoblasts, the hypoxic effect on autophagy has not been studied. We hypothesized that autophagy plays a prosurvival role in the placental trophoblasts by antagonizing hypoxia-induced apoptosis. Our data show that the expression of Light chain 3-II (LC3-II), an autophagic marker and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, an apoptosis marker, are inversely related in cultured trophoblasts. Exposure to rapamycin or hypoxia inactivated mammalian target of rapamycin, as reflected by reduced phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6, indicating that mammalian target of rapamycin regulates autophagy in cultured cytotrophoblasts. Bafilomycin prevented the degradation of cargo and increased LC3-II and p62 in cytotrophoblasts exposed to hypoxia, revealing enhanced autophagic flux. Importantly, bafilomycin enhanced expression of autophagy-related protein 7 (Atg7), parallel to the increased apoptosis measured by cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. LY294002, a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor, increased apoptosis in the trophoblasts under hypoxia or standard conditions. Silencing of Atg7 decreased both apoptosis and LC3-II in the trophoblasts, suggesting a dual role of Atg7 in both autophagy and apoptosis. We conclude that there is a cross talk between autophagy and apoptosis in the placental trophoblasts; autophagy plays a prosurvival role and Atg7 has roles in both autophagy and apoptosis under hypoxia.Endocrinology 08/2012; 153(10):4946-54. · 4.46 Impact Factor