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Biol Reprod. 2004 Jun;70(6):1822-7. Epub 2004 Feb 11.

Normoxic induction of the hypoxic-inducible factor-1 alpha by interleukin-1 beta involves the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 pathway in normal human cytotrophoblast cells.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100080, China.


During early pregnancy, an environment of relative low oxygen tension is essential for normal embryonic and placental vasculature. In low-oxygen conditions, the hypoxic-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), composed of alpha and beta subunits, controls the expression of a number of genes such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a key angiogenic factor. The recent studies in some tumor cells have found that the labile component, HIF-1 alpha, is not only activated by hypoxia but also by peptides such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) in normoxia. In this article, we demonstrated that exposure of normal human cytotrophoblast cells to IL-1 beta stimulated the expression of HIF-1 alpha protein. Meanwhile, IL-1 beta also induced the secretion of VEGF in normal human cytotrophoblast cells. Our data indicated that IL-1 beta induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 phosphorylation. Moreover, treatment of cells with PD98059, an inhibitor of ERK1/2 signaling, inhibited the stimulation of HIF-1 alpha protein expression and VEGF secretion by IL-1 beta. These data indicate that, in normal human cytotrophoblast cells, IL-1 beta induces HIF- 1 alpha-mediated VEGF secretion and that IL-1 beta-stimulated ERK1/2 activation may be involved in this process.

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