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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 22;8(8):e71127. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071127. eCollection 2013.

Heat shock protein 27 is spatially distributed in the human placenta and decreased during labor.

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  • 1University of Glasgow School of Medicine, Institute of Medical Genetics, Yorkhill Hospital, Glasgow, United Kingdom.


Placental oxidative stress is a feature of human labor. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) play a key role in cellular stress. We hypothesized that placental expression of the small HSP 27 would be altered during labor and expression would vary in different regions of the placenta. Six women in labor who delivered vaginally and 6 women not in labor, who were delivered by Cesarean section, were recruited. Four equally spaced pieces were sampled from the inner, middle and outer regions of each placenta (total 12 samples per placenta). HSP 27 expression was investigated by Western blot analysis and RT-PCR. For non-labor, there was less HSP 27 protein in the inner placenta region compared with both the middle region (p<0.05) and outer region (p<0.05). For labor, there was also less HSP 27 protein in the inner region compared with both the middle (p<0.02) and outer region (p<0.01). When the 3 regions of the placenta were compared for non-labor versus labor there was less HSP 27 in the labor group at both the inner (p<0.05) and middle regions (p<0.005) compared to non-labor. Similar to HSP 27 protein, there was less HSP 27 mRNA in the labor group in both the inner region (p<0.05) and middle region (p<0.02) compared to non-labor. This study suggests that placental HSP 27 may play a role in labor and is spatially controlled. The results have important implications for how data obtained from studies in the placenta can be influenced by sampling methods.

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