Human placenta and fetal membranes express follistatin-related gene mRNA and protein.

Research paper by P P Ciarmela, P P Florio, P P Toti, A A Franchini, V V Maguer-Satta, C C Ginanneschi, E E Ottaviani, F F Petraglia

Indexed on: 05 Nov '03Published on: 05 Nov '03Published in: Journal of Endocrinological Investigation


Activin A is a placental glycoprotein and possible biological actions during pregnancy, suggested by experimental data, are the modulation of cytotrophoblast differentiation, placental hormonogenesis and uterotonins secretion. Follistatin-related gene (FLRG) is a 70 amino acids protein which binds activin A with high affinity, and which modulates its biological effects on target tissues by preventing the activin A interaction with its receptors. The present study investigated whether trophoblast, decidua and fetal membranes express FLRG mRNA (by RT-PCR) and peptide (by immunohistochemistry). Tissue specimens were collected at first and third trimester of pregnancy, from patients undergoing voluntary pregnancy interruption (no.=6; from 8 to 12 gestational weeks) and elective caesarean section at term (no.=6; 39-40 weeks of pregnancy). FLRG mRNA was expressed by the various gestational tissues both at early gestation and at term pregnancy. Immunoreactive protein was found in the trophoblast cells, epithelial amniotic and chorionic cells and maternal decidua; nevertheless, the most intense FLRG stain was detected in the walls of decidual and placental blood vessels. In conclusion, FLRG mRNA and peptide are expressed by placenta and fetal membranes. Its different immunolocalization with respect to follistatin and activin A supports a different role for FLRG in modulating activin A actions into gestational tissues.