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Placenta. 2005 Apr;26(4):329-38.

Fetal growth restriction is associated with increased apoptosis in the chorionic trophoblast cells of human fetal membranes.

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  • 1Pregnancy Research Centre, Department of Perinatal Medicine, Royal Women's Hospital, 132 Grattan St, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia. padma@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

The aim of the study was to determine the incidence and spatial distribution of apoptotic cell in fetal membranes obtained from human pregnancies complicated with fetal growth restriction (FGR) for which there was no established cause. Fetal membrane samples from normal (n=10) and FGR-affected (n=10) pregnancies were collected and stored following delivery. The incidence of apoptosis and the number of apoptotic cells in normal and FGR-affected fetal membranes were determined using immunohistochemistry and a monoclonal antibody for neo-epitope of cytokeratin-18, M30. The level of apoptotic proteins in FGR-fetal membranes compared to the normal tissue was determined using Western immunoblotting analysis. Multiple labeling of trophoblast cells using immunofluorescence markers was used to investigate regional differences in localization of apoptotic cells between normal and FGR-affected fetal membranes. Apoptosis was detected in both normal and FGR-affected fetal membranes. However, quantitative analysis of apoptotic cells by immunohistochemistry showed a significant increase in FGR-affected fetal membranes compared to normal (p<0.005). Furthermore, it was observed that apoptotic cells were predominantly localized to chorio-decidual layer of the fetal membrane. By using semi-quantitative analysis of Western immunoblotting, a significant increase in the levels of the apoptotic marker proteins poly-ribo (ADP) polymerase (PARP) and the neo-epitope of cytokeratin-18 were observed in FGR-affected fetal membranes compared to normal (p<0.005). Immunofluorescence studies further confirmed the restriction of the apoptotic cells to the chorionic trophoblast cells in FGR-affected fetal membranes. Our results document for the first time an increased incidence of apoptosis in FGR-affected fetal membranes, with the apoptotic cells restricted primarily to the chorionic trophoblast layer of the fetal membranes. Increased apoptosis in FGR-affected fetal membranes may impair functions of the fetal membranes that are important for normal fetal development and growth. Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms involved in the control of apoptosis in the chorionic trophoblast layer in the FGR-affected fetal membranes may provide further insights into the etiology of FGR.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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