Activin-A stimulates, while transforming growth factor beta(1) inhibits, chorionic gonadotrophin production and aromatase activity in cultured human placental trophoblasts

Y Song, Jeffrey Keelan, JT France

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    Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and activin-A, two members of a ubiquitous family of regulators of growth, differentiation and hormonogenesis, are produced by the human placenta. Their effects on placental hCG, inhibin, and oestrogen production in vitro, either alone or in combination, were investigated using cultured Percoll-purified placental trophoblasts. Inhibin and hCG were measured by immunoassay, while aromatase activity (i.e. oestrogen production) was measured using the tritiated water method. Aromatase activity and production of hCG, but not inhibin, were inhibited (up to similar to 30 per cent) in a dose-dependent fashion by 48 h treatment with TGF-beta. The effects were significant at all doses tested, from 0.1-10 ng/ml. In contrast, activin stimulated hCG production and aromatase activity over the doses tested (0.25-25 ng/ml). The maximum effect (similar to 50 per cent stimulation above control) was seen at the 2.5 ng/ml dose, with lesser effects seen at the lower and higher doses. This characteristic bell-shaped dose-response curve was maintained in the presence of TGF-beta (10 ng/ml) or a maximally-effective dose of forskolin (6.7 mu M). This suggests that the actions of activin were independent of those of TGF-beta, and were not mediated by the protein kinase-A pathway. Activin had a weak stimulatory effect on inhibin production. The results indicate that in the placenta activin and TGF-beta have opposing actions on hormonogenesis. Both factors may play a role in regulating placental function and the timing and progression of labour. (C) 1996 W. B. Saunders Company Ltd
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)603-610
    Publication statusPublished - 1996


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