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Placenta. 2010 Oct;31(10):867-72. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2010.04.007. Epub 2010 Aug 8.

Heat-killed Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG modulates urocortin and cytokine release in primary trophoblast cells.

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Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproductive Medicine, University of Siena, S Maria alle Scotte, viale Bracci 53100 Siena, Italy.


A number of studies are showing that probiotic treatment induces an anti-inflammatory state. Intrauterine infection can lead to preterm delivery by modulating immune function and efforts to prevent this condition are ongoing nowadays. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) is a probiotic known to ameliorate inflammation by increasing local anti-inflammatory mediators in urinary and gastrointestinal tracts. The present study then analyzed the effect of heat-killed LGG over β-hCG, progesterone, interleukins (IL) 4 and 10, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and urocortin (Ucn) release by primary trophoblast cells. Normal human term placentas (n = 6) were collected and purified trophoblast cells were incubated in the presence of LGG, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or either LGG + LPS during 3 h, after which the target substances were quantified by ELISA and real-time PCR. LGG did not affect β-hCG, progesterone, or CRH secretion. Conversely, LGG increased IL-4 protein and mRNA expression (P < 0.05) while IL-10 and Ucn secretion were increased in a dose dependent manner and the highest dose of LGG increased significantly IL-10 mRNA (P < 0.05). LGG did not alter TNF-α, while LPS exposure increased TNF-α protein (P < 0.001) and mRNA expression (P < 0.01). Conversely, LGG treatment reversed LPS-induced TNF-α release at both protein (P < 0.01) and mRNA levels (P < 0.05) in a dose dependent fashion. In conclusion, LGG stimulates IL-4, IL-10 and Ucn expression and reverses LPS-induced TNF-α release from trophoblast cells, with no change in β-hCG or progesterone release, suggesting that this probiotic may play a role as an immunomodulatory agent in human placenta without altering basic trophoblast functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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