Heparin prevents programmed cell death in human trophoblast

Hills, Frank ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8235-7545, Abrahams, Vikki M., Gonzalez-Timon, Belen, Francis, Julia, Cloke, Brianna, Hinkson, Larry, Rai, Raj, Regan, Lesley, Mor, Gil, Sullivan, Mark, Lam, Eric W. and Brosens, Jan J. (2006) Heparin prevents programmed cell death in human trophoblast. Molecular Human Reproduction, 12 (4) . pp. 237-242. ISSN 1360-9947 [Article] (doi:PMID: 16556679)


Heparin is used clinically for the prevention of pregnancy complications associated with prothrombotic disorders, especially antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. Recent studies have suggested that heparin may exert direct effects on placental trophoblast, independently of its anticoagulant activity. We now demonstrate that heparin abrogates apoptosis of primary first trimester villous trophoblast in response to treatment with the pro-inflammatory cytokines interferon (IFN)-gamma and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. This multifunctional glycosaminoglycan also inhibited apoptosis induced by other agents, including staurosporin, broad-spectrum kinase inhibitor and thrombin. Furthermore, heparin attenuated caspase-3 activity, a hallmark of apoptosis, in human first trimester villous and extravillous trophoblast cell lines treated with peptidoglycan, a Toll-like receptor-2 agonist isolated from Staphylococcus aureus. The ability of heparin to antagonize cell death induced by such diverse apoptotic signals suggested that it acts as a survival factor for human trophoblast. We demonstrate that heparin, like epidermal growth factor (EGF) and heparin-binding EGF (HB-EGF), elicits phosphorylation of the EGF receptor and activation of the phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-, the extracellular signal-related kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2)- and the c-Jun NH2 terminal kinase (JNK)-signal transduction pathways in primary villous trophoblast. In summary, we have demonstrated that heparin activates multiple anti-apoptotic pathways in human trophoblast. Our results suggest that heparin may be useful in the management of at-risk patients, even in the absence of an identifiable thrombophilic disorder.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Centre for Investigative and Diagnostic Oncology
A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences > Biomarkers for Cancer group
A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences > Reproductive Biology group
Item ID: 2908
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Frank Hills
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2009 10:11
Last Modified: 30 May 2019 18:31
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/2908

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