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Expression of Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3, an interleukin-12 p40-related molecule, throughout human pregnancy: involvement of syncytiotrophoblasts and extravillous trophoblasts



Expression of Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3, an interleukin-12 p40-related molecule, throughout human pregnancy: involvement of syncytiotrophoblasts and extravillous trophoblasts



American Journal of Pathology 159(5): 1763-1776



In human pregnancy, trophoblasts are the only cells of fetal origin in direct contact with the maternal immune system: syncytiotrophoblasts are in contact with maternal blood, whereas extravillous trophoblasts are in contact with numerous maternal uterine natural killer (NK) cells. Therefore, trophoblasts are thought to play a key role in maternal tolerance to the semiallogeneic fetus, in part through cytokine production and NK cell interaction. Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3 (EBI3) encodes a soluble hematopoietin receptor related to the p40 subunit of interleukin-12. Previous studies indicated that EBI3 is expressed in the spleen and tonsils, and at high levels in full-term placenta. To investigate further EBI3 expression throughout human pregnancy, we generated monoclonal antibodies specific for EBI3 and developed an EBI3 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Immunohistochemical experiments with EBI3 monoclonal antibody on first-, second-, and third-trimester placental tissues demonstrated that EBI3 was expressed throughout pregnancy by syncytiotrophoblasts and extravillous trophoblasts (cytotrophoblast cell columns, interstitial trophoblasts, multinucleated giant cells, and trophoblasts of the chorion laeve). EBI3 expression was also induced during in vitro differentiation of trophoblast cell lines. In addition, large amounts of secreted EBI3 were detected in explant cultures from first-trimester and term placentae. Consistent with these data, EBI3 levels were strongly up-regulated in sera from pregnant women and gradually increased with gestational age. These data, together with the finding that EBI3 peptide is presented by HLA-G, suggest that EBI3 is an important immunomodulator in the fetal-maternal relationship, possibly involved in NK cell regulation.

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Accession: 010637661

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PMID: 11696437

DOI: 10.1016/s0002-9440(10)63023-4


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