Effect of pro-inflammatory cytokines on expression and activity of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 in cultured human term placental trophoblast and human choriocarcinoma JEG-3 cells

Hiroshi Chisaka, Jim F Johnstone, Marina Premyslova, Zuzka Manduch, John R G Challis
Journal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation 2005, 12 (5): 303-9

OBJECTIVE: 11Beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11beta-HSD2) is thought to act as a placental barrier protecting the fetus from high levels of maternal cortisol. On the other hand, intrauterine infection is one of the main causes of preterm birth and adverse fetal outcome, and pro-inflammatory cytokines may contribute to these adverse effects. However, the effect of pro-inflammatory cytokines on 11beta-HSD2 is still not clear. Therefore, we have evaluated the effect of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) on 11beta-HSD2 in cultured human placental trophoblast and in human choriocarcinoma JEG-3 cells.

METHODS: Placental trophoblast cells were isolated from human term placenta. Placental trophoblast cells and JEG-3 cells were treated with TNF-alpha (0.1-10 ng/mL) or IL-1beta (0.1-10 ng/mL). Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and Western blot were used to study the regulation of 11beta-HSD2 expression. 11beta-HSD2 activity was determined by measuring the rate of cortisol to cortisone conversion in the culture medium using thin-layer chromatography (TLC).

RESULTS: In placental trophoblast, TNF-alpha and IL-1beta down-regulated 11beta-HSD2 mRNA expression and activity (both P <.05). The protein level was decreased only with IL-1beta (P <.05). In JEG-3 cells, 11beta-HSD2 mRNA was decreased by TNF-alpha but up-regulated by IL-1beta, with no significant change in protein expression and activity.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest caution in interpreting data using JEG-3 cells. However, our studies with primary trophoblast suggest that TNF-alpha and IL-1beta may increase the amount of cortisol crossing to the placenta and fetal circulation by attenuating 11beta-HSD2 activity, potentially contributing to preterm labor and altered fetal outcome in uterine infection.

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