Corin, an enzyme with a putative role in spiral artery remodeling, is up-regulated in late secretory endometrium and first trimester decidua

Tu'uhevaha J Kaitu'u-Lino, Louie Ye, Laura Tuohey, Evdokia Dimitriadis, Judith Bulmer, Peter Rogers, Ellen Menkhorst, Michelle Van Sinderen, Jane E Girling, Natalie Hannan, Stephen Tong
Human Reproduction 2013, 28 (5): 1172-80

STUDY QUESTION: What is the nature of cellular Corin expression in human gestational tissues?

SUMMARY ANSWER: CORIN is expressed in non-pregnant late secretory phase endometrium, first trimester human implantation sites and is up-regulated with decidualization ex vivo.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Adequate trophoblast invasion and spiral artery remodeling/transformation is critical for successful implantation. CORIN, best known for its role in activating atrial natruietic peptide (ANP) to regulate blood pressure, has recently been proposed to be centrally involved in trophoblast invasion and spiral artery remodeling. It is postulated that ANP, activated by CORIN, promotes trophoblast invasion and that a deficiency causes pre-eclampsia. Mice deficient in either Corin or ANP displayed poor trophoblast invasion, impaired spiral artery remodeling and phenocopied human pre-eclampsia. However, the precise cellular localization of CORIN within human gestational tissues has not been well characterized.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: We measured CORIN protein localization in a number of human gestational tissues relevant to early embryo/placental implantation: non-pregnant (NP) endometrial biopsies (n = 5 per phase of the menstrual cycle), first trimester placental bed biopsies (n = 12) and pre-term control (n = 10) and severe early onset preeclamptic placentas (n = 15). Endometrial stromal cells were isolated from human endometrial biopsies (n = 5) and induced to decidualize ex vivo. Finally, CORIN concentrations were measured in serum obtained from pregnant women during the first trimester of whom, 56 subsequently ended up with a healthy term delivery (controls), 18 developed fetal growth restriction (FGR) and 21 had a miscarriage.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: We performed immunohistochemistry to assess CORIN localization. Changes in Corin mRNA expression in human endometrial stromal cells decidualized ex vivo were measured by quantitative RT-PCR, and levels of CORIN within human sera were measured by ELISA.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: CORIN was expressed in both NP late secretory phase endometrium and first trimester decidua within placental bed biopsies. Importantly, decidualization of primary human endometrial cells ex vivo significantly increased Corin expression (P < 0.05). CORIN was also detected within the villous cytotrophoblast, but there was no change in mRNA levels in placentas complicated by severe preterm pre-eclampsia when compared with pre-term controls. Although CORIN was detected in first trimester serum, levels did not change across gestation, nor could they predict miscarriage or FGR (other disorders of impaired placental invasion).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Owing to the fact that we utilized early pregnancy human specimens, this is mainly a descriptive study with a limited amount of functional experiments.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: This is the first study to thoroughly characterize Corin mRNA and protein expression in human gestational tissue. Our findings support recent data from murine studies collectively suggesting that CORIN plays a critical role in trophoblast migration and spiral artery remodeling during early pregnancy in humans. Therefore, further studies of CORIN biology in early pregnancy may identify new therapeutic targets to improve implantation quality in early pregnancy and potentially reduce the rates of pregnancy complications caused by inadequate implantation (pre-eclampsia, FGR and miscarriage).

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This study was supported by The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (Salary support #490970, #490995). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

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