Placenta-Derived Exosomes and their Role in Human Reproduction

The syncytiotrophoblast (STB) of human placenta constitutively produces and secretes extracellular vesicles of different size, morphology and function that enter the maternal circulation, and participate in the maternal-fetal cross-talk during pregnancy. Syncytiotrophoblast-derived microvesicles/microparticles (STBM) are larger microvesicles (0.2-2 μm) shed by the apical plasma membrane of the STB as a result of cell activation and turnover. Simultaneously with the STBM shedding, the STB produces and secretes exosomes – nanosized (30-100/150 nm) membrane-bound microvesicles that originate from the endosomal compartment. They convey cell-cell contact ‘by proxy’ transporting signals/packages of information between donor and recipient cells locally or/and at a distance. STBM and exosomes, delivered directly in the maternal blood surrounding the chorionic villi of the placenta, have contrasting biological functions. While the exosomes are immunosuppressive down regulating maternal immunity in pluripotent ways, the main effects of STBM on the maternal immune system are pro-inflammatory, immune activating, and pro-coagulant. Since both STBM and exosomes are present in the maternal circulation throughout normal pregnancy logical questions are what is the net effect of these vesicles on the maternal immune system and is this effect beneficial or detrimental to pregnancy. I

n this review, the current knowledge about placenta-derived extracellular vesicles with a main focus on exosomes is summarized and discussed. In a concluding remark, a hypothetical proposal on how STBM and exosomes might interact in pregnancy is discussed and a way to evaluate this interaction is suggested.

exosome rna

Mincheva-Nilsson L, Baranov V. (2014) Placenta-Derived Exosomes and Syncytiotrophoblast Microparticles and their Role in Human Reproduction: Immune Modulation for Pregnancy Success. Am J Reprod Immunol [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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