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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.

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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.