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  • Author: Whasun Lim x
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Changwon Yang, Gwonhwa Song and Whasun Lim

In humans, pregnancy maintenance depends on normal placental formation following trophoblast invasion into the endometrium and vascular remodeling. In the early stages of pregnancy, immune tolerance, inflammatory response and adaptation to hypoxia need to be precisely regulated in the placental microenvironment. Various types of cells, such as trophoblasts, endothelial cells, immune cells, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and adipocytes, induce normal placental development via intercellular interactions through soluble factors. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are used to diagnose various diseases because their constituents vary depending on the type of cell of origin and pathological characteristics. EV-derived microRNAs (miRNAs) and proteins in the placenta regulate inflammatory responses and the invasion of trophoblasts through intercellular delivery in the placental microenvironment. If the placenta does not adapt to the changed environment during early pregnancy, pregnancy disorders such as pre-eclampsia, preterm birth and gestational diabetes mellitus can occur. Thus, the important roles of EVs during pregnancy and development is fast emerging. This review describes the physiological role of EVs during placentation and their composition in the human placenta. It also suggests the possibility of finding EV markers that can diagnose pregnancy disorders. Furthermore, it describes the properties of EVs that affect pregnancy in livestock.

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Jin-Young Lee, Hahyun Park, Whasun Lim and Gwonhwa Song

α,β-Thujone is a natural terpenoid found in many medicinal herbs, such as Artemisia absinthium (wormwood), that exhibits antioxidant, anti-diabetic, and anti-tumorigenic effects. α,β-Thujone has numerous functions; it serves as a food ingredient, cosmetic additive, and medicinal remedy. Although the therapeutic properties of α,β-thujone were previously revealed, a comprehensive description of the mechanisms of its anti-cancer potential in choriocarcinoma is yet to be provided. To our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate that α,β-thujone attenuates JEG3 and JAR choriocarcinoma cells through a caspase-dependent intrinsic apoptotic pathway. Moreover, α,β-thujone was demonstrated to induce a global mitochondrial defect and ER stress in choriocarcinoma by causing mitochondrial depolarization, calcium overload, and metabolic alterations, thereby leading to energy deprivation, which eventually contributes to the increase in apoptosis of choriocarcinoma cells. Herein, we also revealed the synergistic anti-cancer activity of α,β-thujone via its sensitization effect on paclitaxel in choriocarcinoma cells. Altogether, our findings suggest that α,β-thujone is a novel, natural pharmacological compound that can be used to treat human placental choriocarcinoma.