Human placenta expresses both peripheral and neuronal isoform of tryptophan hydroxylase.

Research paper by Laetitia L Laurent, Kathy K Deroy, Joey J St-Pierre, Francine F Côté, J Thomas JT Sanderson, Cathy C Vaillancourt

Indexed on: 29 Jul '17Published on: 29 Jul '17Published in: Biochimie


The role of placental serotonin has been an active topic of research notably because of its crucial role in brain development. However, which cell types synthesize serotonin in human placenta remains unknown. Moreover, it is not known if the two tryptophan hydroxylase isoforms (TPH1 and TPH2), the rate-limiting enzymes in serotonin biosynthesis, are expressed in placenta. Human placentas were obtained in first trimester or at term, and trophoblast cells were isolated and purified using a magnetic cell sorter and placed in primary culture. The tissue sublocalization of each TPH was determined by immunohistochemistry. TPH expression in primary villous trophoblasts was determined by PCR and immunoblotting, and serotonin secretion by LC-MS/MS. Villous cytotrophoblasts, syncytiotrophoblast, fetal capillaries, extravillous cytotrophoblasts, and decidual cells co-expressed TPH1 and TPH2. Moreover, mRNA and protein levels of both TPHs were detected in human primary trophoblast as well as in mouse placental tissues. Finally, human trophoblast cells were shown to produce serotonin de novo. This study demonstrates that both TPH1 and TPH2 are expressed in human and mouse placenta throughout pregnancy and helps to better understand the placental serotonin system, which is crucial for healthy pregnancy and fetal development. It is therefore important to further understand regulation of the placental serotonin system and how its disruption during pregnancy may impact the developing fetus and subsequent child programming.