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Hum Reprod Update. 2008 Jul-Aug;14(4):335-44. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmn010. Epub 2008 Apr 17.

Trophoblast invasion: the role of intracellular cytokine signalling via signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3).

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  • 1Klinik für Frauenheilkunde und Geburtshilfe, Abteilung für Geburtshilfe, Placenta-Labor, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Bachstr. 18, 07743 Jena, Germany.


Trophoblast cells display a very unique capability: they physiologically invade into the surrounding tissue. This capability is widely associated with tumours, and, indeed, the invasive behaviour of both is rather similar. The imposing difference is that trophoblast cell invasion is temporally and locally controlled in contrast to unlimited tumour invasion. It initiates immediately after embryo implantation into the endometrium. Parallel to tumours, trophoblasts secrete proteases, such as matrix metalloproteinases, which dissolve the extracellular matrix and the surrounding tissue. Thereby, these proteases prepare and allow true invasion of trophoblasts. The invasive capacities of trophoblasts are positively and negatively regulated by numerous cytokines including leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF), interleukin-6, hepatocyte growth factor, granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor and others. They interact via specific receptors with the trophoblast cells, in which they activate intracellular signalling cascades. These will then induce expression of invasion relevant genes. One of these signalling pathways is the Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) pathway. Especially phosphorylated STAT3 enhances invasiveness of tumours and trophoblast cells, where it is mainly activated by LIF. One of its most efficient physiological antagonists is suppressor of cytokine signalling 3. The balance of these two intracellular molecules seems to be a key regulator of tumour and trophoblast invasion.

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