The placental syncytiotrophoblast is the site for mineral and nutrient exchange across the maternal-fetal interface. It has been proposed that parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) is a key factor in the maintenance of a maternal-fetal calcium gradient. Using simultaneously prepared microvillous (maternal facing) and basal (fetal facing) syncytiotrophoblast membranes from term human placentae (n=8), we determined the relative contribution of PTH(1-34), PTHrP(1-34) and PTHrP(67-94) to the regulation of syncytiotrophoblast calcium efflux. The vesicles had correct right-side-out membrane orientation and specific markers validated the fractionation of microvillous and basal membrane vesicles. Calcium efflux was studied by preloading vesicles with calcium-45 in the presence of calcium and magnesium and then incubating the vesicles at 37 degrees C for 15 min with the peptides. In basal membranes, PTHrP(1-! 34) significantly stimulated calcium efflux at a dose of 12.5 nmol/l, whereas PTH(1-34)-stimulated efflux was significant at 50 nmol/l (P<0.05, ANOVA). This efflux was significantly reduced in the presence of the PTH/PTHrP receptor antagonist (PTHrP(7-34)). Midmolecule PTHrP(67-94) had no significant effect on basal membrane calcium efflux. PTH(1-34), PTHrP(1-34) or PTHrP(67-94) had no significant effects on MVM calcium efflux. This study, using the human syncytiotrophoblast in vitro membrane system, demonstrated that PTHrP(1-34) and PTH(1-34) stimulate calcium transport across the basal, but not microvillous, syncytiotrophoblast membrane vesicles, mediated via the PTH/PTHrP receptor.
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W Farrugia, T de Gooyer, GE Rice, JM Moseley, and ME Wlodek
S.J. Lye, M.E. Wlodek, and J.R.G. Challis
Uterine contractions, induced by the administration of oxytocin to sheep between d 123-144 of pregnancy, were associated with a mean transient decrease in fetal PaO2 of 2.8 mm Hg within 5 min. These changes were associated with a rapid increase in the concentration of ACTH in fetal plasma. There was a significant (P<0.05) increase in the percentage change (+40 to +47%) over basal ACTH levels in fetal plasma at +5, +15 and +20 min after oxytocin. Administration of saline had no significant effect on intrauterine pressure, fetal PaO2 or fetal plasma ACTH levels. We speculate that increases in uterine activity and/or transient decreases in fetal PaO2 may contribute to short-term fluctuations in plasma ACTH in fetal sheep.
W Farrugia, PW Ho, GE Rice, JM Moseley, M Permezel, and ME Wlodek
Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) is present in fetal and gestational tissues, in which its proposed roles include stimulation of epithelial growth and differentiation, vasodilatation of the uteroplacental vasculature, relaxation of uterine muscle and stimulation of placental calcium transport. The aim of this study was to determine whether the release of PTHrP from gestational tissue explants was tissue specific. In addition, PTHrP concentrations were measured in maternal plasma, umbilical artery and vein plasma, and amniotic fluid from term, uncomplicated pregnancies before the onset of labour. PTHrP was detected in low concentrations in the mother, fetus and placental tissue. Amniotic fluid had ten times the PTHrP concentration compared with that in the maternal or fetal circulations. Using late pregnant human gestational tissues in an in vitro explant system, we found that amnion over placenta, choriodecidua, reflected amnion, and placenta released PTHrP into culture medium in progressively greater amounts over 24 h (P<0.05). This release was not associated with a loss of cell membrane integrity, as indicated by measurement of the intracellular enzyme, lactate dehydrogenase, in the incubation media. After 24 h incubation, the fetal membranes released significantly (P<0.05) greater amounts of PTHrP than did the placenta (placenta 3. 7+/-0.5 pmol PTHrP/g protein). Amnion over placenta released significantly more PTHrP (139.3+/- 43.1 pmol PTHrP/g protein) than did reflected amnion (29.0+/-8.3 pmol PTHrP/g protein) (P<0.05). This study unequivocally demonstrated that human gestational tissues release PTHrP and it was concluded that the main contributors to PTHrP in amniotic fluid were the human fetal membranes, particularly amnion over placenta. Fetal membrane-derived and amniotic fluid PTHrP are proposed to have stimulatory effects on epithelial growth and differentiation in fetal lung, gut, skin and hair follicles and paracrine effects on placental vascular tone and calcium transport.
ME Wlodek, KT Westcott, A Serruto, R O'Dowd, L Wassef, PW Ho, and JM Moseley
Evidence implicates pivotal roles for parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) during lactation, including stimulation of mammary and pup growth. As spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) pups are growth restricted compared with the control Wistar Kyoto (WKY), we examined the relative roles of pup suckling and maternal lactational environment on pup growth, mammary PTHrP, and milk PTHrP and calcium concentrations. SHR pups were lighter compared with the control from 6 days. SHR mammary PTHrP content and milk PTHrP were lower but maternal plasma PTHrP was raised compared with WKY. SHR mammary morphological development was also impaired compared with control. Cross fostering growth-restricted pups onto WKY mothers increased pup weight in association with normal mammary function and higher milk PTHrP and calcium. Control pups suckling on an SHR mother had reduced body weight. Both cross fostering groups were associated with increased maternal and milk PTHrP concentrations, indicating the importance of suckling, together with a functional mammary gland. The results suggested that impaired SHR mammary function and milk PTHrP are associated with a reduced SHR postnatal growth. Our data also indicated that milk and mammary PTHrP are regulated by different mechanisms but that they are influenced by the maternal lactational environment and the suckling pup.
TE de Gooyer, SL Skinner, ME Wlodek, DJ Kelly, and JL Wilkinson-Berka
There is accumulating evidence that local renin-angiotensin systems (RASs) influence cell growth and organ function in a variety of tissues including the ovary. The first aim of this study was to characterise the cellular location of RAS components in the rat ovary. This was facilitated by the use of the hypertensive transgenic (mRen-2)27 rat which overexpresses renin and angiotensin in extra-renal tissues. Comparisons were made with normal Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. The second aim was to determine if the upregulated RAS of the transgenic (mRen-2)27 rat and infusion of angiotensin II (ANG II) in SD rats influences follicle number and litter size. Gene expression, immunohistochemical and autoradiographic techniques were used to identify a discrete RAS including ANG II receptors in the ovarian stroma, follicles (particularly atretic) and to a lesser extent corpora lutea. The RAS at these sites was most abundant in homozygous (HMZ) followed by heterozygous (HTZ) (mRen-2)27 rats and then SD rats. Large antral and preovulatory follicles and litter size were reduced in (mRen-2)27 rats. In HMZ (mRen-2)27 rats and SD rats infused with ANG II, angiotensin 1a (AT(1a)) receptor mRNA in the ovarian stroma was lower than control SD rats and was associated with a reduction in large antral and preovulatory follicles. These findings indicate that upregulation of the ovarian RAS in the rat influences follicular development and, potentially, reproductive capacity.