Vasoactive intestinal peptide shapes first‐trimester placenta trophoblast, vascular, and immune cell cooperation

Article date: April 2019

By: Daniel E. Paparini, Ruhul H. Choudhury, Daiana M. Vota, Magdalena Karolczak‐Bayatti, Sarah Finn‐Sell, Esteban N. Grasso, Vanesa C. Hauk, Rosanna Ramhorst, Claudia Pérez Leirós, John D. Aplin in Volume 176, Issue 7, pages 964-980

Background and Purpose

Extravillous trophoblast (EVT) cells are responsible for decidual stromal invasion, vascular transformation, and the recruitment and functional modulation of maternal leukocytes in the first‐trimester pregnant uterus. An early disruption of EVT function leads to placental insufficiency underlying pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction. Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) is a vasodilating and immune modulatory factor synthesized by trophoblast cells. However, its role in first‐trimester placenta has not been explored. Here, we tested the hypothesis that VIP is involved in first‐trimester EVT outgrowth, spiral artery remodelling, balancing angiogenesis, and maintenance of immune homeostasis.

Experimental Approach

First‐trimester placental tissue (five to nine weeks of gestation) was collected, and was used for EVT outgrowth experiments, immunofluorescence, isolation of decidual natural killer (dNK) cells and decidual macrophages (dMA), and functional assays. Peripheral blood monocytes were differentiated with GM‐CSF and used for angiogenesis assays.

Key Results

In decidua basalis, VIP+ EVT were observed sprouting from cell columns and lining spiral arterioles. EVT migrating from placental explants were also VIP+. VIP increased EVT outgrowth and IL‐10 release, whereas it decreased pro‐inflammatory cytokine production in EVT, dNK cells, and dMA. VIP disrupted endothelial cell networks, both directly and indirectly via an effect on macrophages.

Conclusion and Implications

The results suggest that VIP assists the progress of EVT invasion and vessel remodelling in first‐trimester placental bed in an immunologically “silent” milieu. The effects of VIP in the present ex vivo human placental model endorse its potential as a therapeutic candidate for deep placentation disorders.

DOI: 10.1111/bph.14609

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