Expression of Inhibin/activin Subunits alpha (-alpha), beta A (-beta (A)) and beta B (-beta (B)) in Placental Tissue of Normal and Intrauterine Growth Restricted (IUGR) Pregnancies.
During human pregnancy the placenta produces a variety of proteins like steroid hormones and their receptors that are responsible for the establishment and ongoing of the feto-placental unit. Inhibins are dimeric glycoproteins, composed of an alpha-subunit and one of two possible beta-subunits (beta (A) or beta (B)). Aims of the present study were the determination of the frequency and tissue distribution patterns of the inhibin/activin subunits in human placental tissue of normal pregnancies and pregnancies complicated with fetal growth restriction (IUGR). Slides of paraffin embedded placental tissue were obtained after delivery from patients diagnosed with IUGR (n = 6) and normal term placentas (n = 8). Tissue samples were fixed and incubated with monoclonal antibodies inhibin/activin-subunits -alpha, -beta (A), -beta (B). Intensity of immunohistochemical reaction on the slides was analysed using a semi-quantitative score and statistical analysis was performed (P<0.05). A significant lower expression of the inhibin-alpha subunit in IUGR extravillous trophoblast compared to normal pregnancies was observed, while the inhibin-alpha immunostaining was significantly upregulated in syncytiotrophoblast. Additionally, a significant down-regulation of inhibin-beta (B) subunit in extravillous trophoblast cells in IUGR syncytiotrophoblast cells was demonstrated. A co-localisation of inhibin-alpha and the beta-subunits was also observed, suggesting a production and secretion of intact inhibin A and inhibin B. Although the precise role of these inhibin/activin subunits in human placenta and IUGR pregnancies is still unclear, they could be involved in autocrine/paracrine signalling, contributing to several aspects like angiogenesis and tissue remodelling.