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Am J Reprod Immunol. 2006 Nov-Dec;56(5-6):345-55.

Specific isolation of placenta-derived exosomes from the circulation of pregnant women and their immunoregulatory consequences.

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Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.



One immunoregulatory pathway receiving little attention is placental exosome release. In normal pregnancy, as factors linked with early immunomodulation decline, placental exosomes become critical in modulating T-cell activation, suppressing effector T cells by enhancing lymphocyte apoptosis and CD3-zeta loss.


Placental exosomes were specifically isolated from the maternal peripheral circulation by a chromatographic/immunosorbent procedure. Exosomal suppression of T-cell signaling molecules on unfractionated T cells and T subsets was analyzed by Western immunoblot. The role of Fas ligand (FasL) was defined by use of Fas-blocking antibody.


While exosomes of lymphoid origin could be demonstrated in all women, placenta-derived exosomes were only identified in pregnant patients. Placental exosomes suppressed T-cell expression of CD3-zeta and JAK3, while inducing SOCS-2. This downregulation of CD3-zeta was partially reversed by pre-incubating T cells with ZB4 antibody. Using T subsets, the level of CD3-zeta on CD8+ cells was inhibited 1.43-fold more than in CD4+ cells. On CD4+ CD25+ cells, CD3-zeta was not significantly inhibited.


Placental exosomes suppressed T-cell signaling components; however, while exosomal FasL is an important contributor, it does not appear to be the sole mediator. The additional expression of PD-L1 may explain immunoregulatory consequences of exosomes with low or absent FasL.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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