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Hui Li, Yu-Han Meng, Wen-Qing Shang, Li-Bing Liu, Xuan Chen, Min-Min Yuan, Li-Ping Jin, Ming-Qing Li, and Da-Jin Li

Chemokine CCL24, acting through receptor CCR3, is a potent chemoattractant for eosinophil in allergic diseases and parasitic infections. We recently reported that CCL24 and CCR3 are co-expressed by trophoblasts in human early pregnant uterus. Here we prove with evidence that steroid hormones estradiol (E), progesterone (P), and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), as well as decidual stromal cells (DSCs) could regulate the expression of CCL24 and CCR3 of trophoblasts. We further investigate how trophoblast-derived CCL24 mediates the function of trophoblasts in vitro, and conclude that CCL24/CCR3 promotes the proliferation, viability and invasiveness of trophoblasts. In addition, analysis of the downstream signaling pathways of CCL24/CCR3 show that extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathways may contribute to the proliferation, viability and invasiveness of trophoblasts by activating intracellular molecules Ki67 and matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP9). However, we did not observe any inhibitory effect on trophoblasts when blocking c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) or p38 pathways. In conclusion, our data suggests that trophoblast-derived CCL24 at the maternal-fetal interface promotes trophoblasts cell growth and invasiveness by ERK1/2 and PI3K pathways. Meanwhile, pregnancy-related hormones (P and hCG), as well as DSCs could up-regulate CCL24/CCR3 expression in trophoblasts, which may indirectly influence the biological functions of trophoblasts. Thus, our results provide a possible explanation for the growth and invasion of trophoblasts in human embryo implantation.

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Pei-Li Wu, Jing-Wen Zhu, Cheng Zeng, Xin Li, Qing Xue, and Hui-Xia Yang

In brief

Insufficient trophoblast invasion at the maternal–fetal interface contributes to abortion-prone pregnancy. Our study shows that decreased levels of IGFBP7 in unexplained recurrent spontaneous abortion (URSA) trophoblast cells inhibit MMP2 and Slug expression as well as trophoblast invasion, suggesting that IGFBP7 should be considered a potential therapeutic protein target in URSA.


Insufficient trophoblast invasion at the maternal–fetal interface contributes to abortion-prone pregnancy. Cyclosporine A (CsA) can exert therapeutic effects on URSA by promoting trophoblast invasion. A previous study showed decreased expression of insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) in the sera of recurrent spontaneous abortion patients. However, the role of IGFBP7 in URSA remains unknown. The aim of this study was to determine whether IGFBP7 modulates trophoblast invasion in URSA and the underlying molecular mechanisms. We found that IGFBP7 was expressed at lower levels in villous specimens from URSA patients. Manipulating IGFBP7 expression significantly affected the MMP2 and Slug expression in HTR-8/SVneo cells as well as trophoblast invasion in vitro. Inactivation of IGF-1R by IGFBP7 was observed, and IGF-1R inhibition increased the IGFBP7-induced MMP2 and Slug expression in HTR-8/SVneo cells. Moreover, the level of c-Jun was significantly upregulated in the URSA group. Silencing IGFBP7 increased the binding of downstream c-Jun to the MMP2 and Slug promoter regions in HTR-8/SVneo cells, thus suppressing transcription. In addition, increased expression of IGFBP7 in HTR-8/SVneo cells was observed upon CsA treatment. Knockdown of IGFBP7 inhibited the CsA-enhanced MMP2 and Slug expression in HTR-8/SVneo cells. Our results suggest that in normal pregnancy, IGFBP7 induces MMP2 and Slug expression via the IGF-1R-mediated c-Jun signaling pathway, thereby promoting trophoblast invasion. IGFBP7 depletion in URSA inhibits MMP2 and Slug expression as well as trophoblast invasion. Moreover, IGFBP7 participates in CsA-induced trophoblast invasion, suggesting that IGFBP7 is a potential therapeutic target for URSA.

Free access

Shangang Li, Xuejin Chen, Zhenfu Fang, Jianjun Shi, and Hui Z Sheng

Somatic cell nuclear transfer offers new opportunities for genetic engineering and genome preservation in mammalian animal species. We show that, in addition to cumulus cells, cultured adult rabbit fibroblasts are also capable of supporting full-term development after nuclear transfer. Nuclear transfer embryos constructed using serum-starved fibroblasts showed a significantly higher developmental rate than non-starved fibroblasts through preimplantation stages. A total of 467 nuclear transfer embryos were transferred into the oviducts of pseudo pregnant mothers. Eight of the 20 surrogate rabbits carried the pregnancy to term and five of them gave birth naturally to a total of nine rabbits. However, all of the offspring died before postnatal day 10. A Caesarean section was performed on three surrogates, giving birth to a total of five rabbits, three of them survived and grew into healthy adults. DNA analyses confirmed that these rabbits were genetically identical to the donor male rabbit. The present study demonstrates that rabbits can be cloned from adult fibroblasts after culture.

Free access

Xue Li, Zhi-Yan Shan, Yan-Shuang Wu, Xing-Hui Shen, Chun-Jia Liu, Jing-Ling Shen, Zhong-Hua Liu, and Lei Lei

Pig pluripotent cells may represent an advantageous experimental tool for developing therapeutic application in the human biomedical field. However, it has previously been proven to be difficult to establish from the early embryo and its pluripotency has not been distinctly documented. In recent years, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology provides a new method of reprogramming somatic cells to pluripotent state. The generation of iPS cells together with or without certain small molecules has become a routine technique. However, the generation of iPS cells from pig embryonic tissues using viral infections together with small molecules has not been reported. Here, we reported the generation of induced pig pluripotent cells (iPPCs) using the iPS technology in combination with valproic acid (VPA). VPA treatment significantly increased the expression of pluripotent genes and played an important role in early reprogramming. We showed that iPPCs resembled pig epiblast cells in their morphology and pluripotent markers, such as OCT4, NANOG, and SSEA1. It had a normal karyotype and could form embryoid bodies, which express three germ layer markers in vitro. In addition, the iPPCs might directly differentiate into neural progenitors after being induced with the retinoic acid and extracellular matrix. Our study established a reasonable method to generate pig pluripotent cells, which might be a new donor cell source for human neural disease therapy.

Free access

Tao Yu, Shuai Lin, Rui Xu, Tian-Xi Du, Yang Li, Hui Gao, Hong-Lu Diao, and Xiu-Hong Zhang

Embryo implantation is a crucial step for the successful establishment of mammalian pregnancy. Cyclophilin A (CYPA) is a ubiquitously expressed intracellular protein and is secreted in response to inflammatory stimuli to regulate diverse cellular functions. However, there are currently no reports about the role of CYPA in embryo implantation. Here, we examine the expression pattern of CYPA during mouse early pregnancy and explore the potential role of CYPA during implantation. CYPA is expressed in the subluminal stroma surrounding the implanting blastocyst on day 5 of pregnancy, but not at inter-implantation sites. In ovariectomized mice, estrogen and progesterone significantly stimulate CYPA expression. When pregnant mice are injected intraperitoneally with CYPA inhibitor, the numbers of implantation sites are significantly reduced. Using an in vitro stromal cell culture system, Ppia siRNA knockdown of CYPA and CYPA-specific inhibitor treatment partially inhibits levels of CD147, MMP3 and MMP9. Decreased CYPA expression also significantly inhibits Stat3 activity and expands estrogen responsiveness. Taken together, CYPA may play an important role during mouse embryo implantation.

Free access

Wen-Lin Chang, Qing Yang, Hui Zhang, Hai-Yan Lin, Zhi Zhou, Xiaoyin Lu, Cheng Zhu, Li-Qun Xue, and Hongmei Wang

Placenta-specific protein 1 (PLAC1), a placenta-specific gene, is known to be involved in the development of placenta in both humans and mice. However, the precise role of PLAC1 in placental trophoblast function remains unclear. In this study, the localization of PLAC1 in human placental tissues and its physiological significance in trophoblast invasion and migration are investigated by technical studies including real-time RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and functional studies by utilizing cell invasion and migration assays in the trophoblast cell line HTR8/SVneo as well as the primary inducing extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs). The results show that PLAC1 is mainly detected in the trophoblast columns and syncytiotrophoblast of the first-trimester human placental villi, as well as in the EVTs that invade into the maternal decidua. Knockdown of PLAC1 by RNA interference significantly suppresses the invasion and migration of HTR8/SVneo cells and shortens the distance of the outgrowth of the induced EVTs from the cytotrophoblast column of the explants. All the above data suggests that PLAC1 plays an important role in human placental trophoblast invasion and migration.

Free access

Ruiying Diao, Kin Lam Fok, Li Zhao, Hao Chen, Hui Tang, Jing Chen, Aiping Zheng, Xiaohu Zhang, Yaoting Gui, Hsiao Chang Chan, and Zhiming Cai

Sperm quality declines with aging; however, the underlying molecular mechanism remains elusive. The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) has been shown to play an essential role in fertilizing capacity of sperm and male fertility. This study aimed to investigate the involvement of age-dependent CFTR downregulation in lowering sperm quality in old age. Two hundred and one healthy fertile men of three age groups (20–40 years, n=64; 40–60 years, n=61; and >60 years, n=76) were recruited. Expression of CFTR was determined by RT-PCR, western blot, and immunofluorescence staining. Collected sperm were treated with CFTR inhibitor or potentiator. Sperm quality was assessed by motility and bicarbonate-induced capacitation. The results showed that the expression of CFTR on the equatorial segment and neck region of sperm was significantly decreased in an age-dependent manner. Reduction of CFTR expression in sperm from old men was correlated with lowered forward motility and decreased HCO3 sensitivity required for sperm capacitation. Activation of CFTR by genistein partially rescued the decreased forward motility in sperm from old men. Decreased CFTR expression in sperm was also found to be associated with lowered sperm quality in aging mice. These results suggest that age-dependent downregulation of CFTR in sperm leads to lowered sperm quality in old age sperm. CFTR may be a pontential target for rescuing sperm motility as well as a fertility indicator in old age men.

Free access

Jia-Jun Yu, Hui-Ting Sun, Zhong-Fang Zhang, Ru-Xia Shi, Li-Bing Liu, Wen-Qing Shang, Chun-Yan Wei, Kai-Kai Chang, Jun Shao, Ming-Yan Wang, and Ming-Qing Li

Endometriosis (EMS) is associated with an abnormal immune response to endometrial cells, which can facilitate the implantation and proliferation of ectopic endometrial tissues. It has been reported that human endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) express interleukin (IL)15. The aim of our study was to elucidate whether or not IL15 regulates the cross talk between ESCs and natural killer (NK) cells in the endometriotic milieu and, if so, how this regulation occurs. The ESC behaviors in vitro were verified by Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8), Annexin/PI, and Matrigel invasion assays, respectively. To imitate the local immune microenvironment, the co-culture system between ESCs and NK cells was constructed. The effect of IL15 on NK cells in the co-culture unit was investigated by flow cytometry (FCM). In this study, we found that ectopic endometrium from patients with EMS highly expressed IL15. Rapamycin, an autophagy inducer, decreased the level of IL15 receptors (i.e. IL15Rα and IL2Rβ). IL15 inhibits apoptosis and promotes the invasiveness, viability, and proliferation of ESCs. Meanwhile, a co-culture with ESCs led to a decrease in CD16 on NK cells. In the co-culture system, IL15 treatment downregulated the levels of Granzyme B and IFN-γ in CD16+NK cells, NKG2D in CD56dimCD16-NK cells, and NKP44 in CD56brightCD16-NK cells. On the one hand, these results indicated that IL15 derived from ESCs directly stimulates the growth and invasion of ESCs. On the other hand, IL15 may help the immune escape of ESCs by suppressing the cytotoxic activity of NK cells in the ectopic milieu, thereby facilitating the progression of EMS.

Free access

Qiu-Chan Qu, Hui-Hui Shen, Cheng-Jie Wang, Xin-Yan Zhang, Jiang-Nan Wu, Hang-Cheng Lu, Xue-Min Qiu, Jia-Yi Ding, Xiao-Fang Tan, Li-Bing Liu, and Ming-Qing Li

A successful pregnancy requires sufficient decidualization of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs). CD82, a metastasis suppressor, is a critical regulator for trophoblast invasion but the effect in decidualization was largely unknown. Here we reported that there was a high level of CD82 in DSC by the immunohistochemistry staining and flow cytometer analysis. Stimulation with prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) elevated the expression of CD82 in ESCs. In contrast, celecoxib, a selective COX-2 inhibitor, significantly downregulated the expression of CD82 in decidual stromal cells (DSCs). Bioinformatics analysis and further research showed that recombinant human interleukin (IL)-1β protein (rhIL-1β) upregulated CD82 in ESCs. Of note, blocking IL-1β signaling with anti-human IL-1β neutralizing antibody could reverse the stimulatory effect of PGE2 on CD82 in ESCs. Silencing CD82 resulted in the decease of the decidualization markers PRL and IGFBP1 mRNA levels in DSCs. More importantly, we observed rhIL-1β also upregulated the expression of COX-2, and the upregulation of PRL and IGFBP1 induced by rhIL-1β could be abolished by celecoxib in ESCs or CD82 deficiency in DSCs. This study suggests that CD82 should be a novel promotor for decidualization under a positive regulation of the COX-2/PGE2/IL-1β positive feedback loop.

Free access

Xue-Min Qiu, Zhen-Zhen Lai, Si-Yao Ha, Hui-Li Yang, Li-Bing Liu, Yan Wang, Jia-Wei Shi, Lu-Yu Ruan, Jiang-Feng Ye, Jiang-Nan Wu, Qiang Fu, Xiao-Fang Yi, Kai-Kai Chang, and Ming-Qing Li

Immune cells and cytokines have important roles in the pathogenesis of endometriosis. However, the production and role of cytokines of T helper type 1 (Th1) and Th2 cells in the progress of endometriosis have remained to be fully elucidated. The present study reported that the interferon (IFN)-γ levels and the percentage of IFN-γ+CD4+ cells were significantly increased in the peritoneal fluid (PF) at the early stage and maintained at a higher level at the advanced stage of endometriosis; furthermore, interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-10+CD4+ cells were elevated in the advanced stage of endometriosis. In addition, IL-2 levels in the PF at the advanced stage of endometriosis were elevated and negatively associated with IFN-γ expression. In a co-culture system of ectopic endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) and macrophages, elevated IL-2 was observed, and treatment with cytokines IL-2 and transforming growth factor-β led to upregulation of the ratio of IL-2+ macrophages. IL-27-overexpressing ESCs and macrophages were able to induce a higher ratio of IL-10+CD4+ T cells. Blocking of IL-2 with anti-IL-2 neutralizing antibody led to upregulation of the ratio of IFN-γ+CD4+ T cells in the co-culture system in vitro. Recombinant human IL-10 and IFN-γ promoted the viability, invasiveness and transcription levels of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)2, MMP9, and prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 of ESCs, particularly combined treatment with IL-10 and IFN-γ. These results suggest that IL-2 and IL-27 synergistically promote the growth and invasion of ESCs by modulating the balance of IFN-γ and IL-10 and contribute to the progress of endometriosis.