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Placenta. 2008 Sep;29(9):809-15. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2008.06.009.

The distribution of angiopoietin-1, angiopoietin-2 and their receptors tie-1 and tie-2 in the very early human placenta.

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  • 1Department of Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine, Akdeniz University, 07070 Antalya, Turkey.


Angiopoietins are integral to vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, which play crucial roles in the growth and development of the placenta. The current study assessed expression of angiopoietins (Ang-1 and Ang-2) and their receptors (Tie-1 and Tie-2) during development of the early human placenta. First-trimester placental tissues were obtained from women undergoing curettage during normal pregnancies. The use of immunohistochemistry (IHC) showed that Ang-1 was primarily localized to syncytiotrophoblasts where it displayed moderate immunoreactivity, whereas weak immunoreactivity for Ang-1 was observed in endothelial cells and angiogenic cell cords (ACC). Strong immunoreactivity for Ang-2 was also found predominantly in syncytiotrophoblasts with lower immunostaining levels evident in cytotrophoblasts. Moderate immunoreactivity for Ang-2 was observed in endothelial cells, ACC and Hofbauer cells. By contrast, the trophoblastic shell, as well as endothelial cells and ACC exhibited strong staining intensity for Tie-1 with the strongest immunoreactivity for Tie-2 observed in cytotrophoblasts, ACC and endothelial cells. Western blotting of tissue extracts confirmed the IHC results. Previous studies focused on VEGF and its receptors in controlling vasculogenesis and angiogenesis in human placenta. However, the specific localization patterns of angiopoietins and their receptors revealed by the current study emphasize the importance of these molecules in placental vascular development. Functional studies aimed at identifying the molecular mechanisms of actions of these factors and receptors may prove essential in elucidating the pathophysiology of placental disorders such as intrauterine growth restriction and pre-eclampsia.

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