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Placenta. 2003 Sep-Oct;24(8-9):882-94.

Trophoblast viability in perfused term placental tissue and explant cultures limited to 7-24 hours.

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Universit├Ąts-Frauenklinik Inselspital, Effingerstrasse 102, CH-3010 Berne, Switzerland.


Human term-placental culture techniques such as villous explant or dual perfusion are commonly used to study trophoblast function under control and experimentally manipulated conditions. We have compared trophoblast viability during perfusion and in explants cultured under various conditions by monitoring glucose consumption, protein synthesis and secretion, expression of differentiation-specific genes, induction of stress proteins and apoptotic cell death. The tissue was obtained from term-placentae of uncomplicated pregnancies after elective Caesarean delivery. We observed a severe loss of trophoblast viability in explants irrespective of the culture conditions used. Over 7 h of culture the amount of the differentiation specific placental hormones hCG, hPL and leptin accumulated in the medium dropped significantly. Analysis of their expression by semi-quantitative and real-time RT-PCR revealed that the down-regulation of expression occurred at the transcriptional level. This transcriptional repression was accompanied by induction of the stress-proteins RTP and BiP/GRP78. Analysis of apoptotic cell death by TUNEL assay and immunohistochemical detection of the caspase-3-specific degradation product of cytokeratin 18 revealed prominent cell death after 7 h of culture. These results are in contrast to the findings obtained in perfused placental tissue where, after 7 h of culture, hormone secretion, expression of stress proteins and cell death were similar as in native tissue. This difference between villous explant incubation and dual perfusion is also reflected by a significantly higher consumption of glucose in perfused tissue.

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