The characterization of human amnion epithelial and mesenchymal cells: the cellular expression, activity and glucocorticoid regulation of prostaglandin output

Placenta. 2000 May;21(4):394-401. doi: 10.1053/plac.1999.0482.


The amnion, a single layer of epithelial cells (EC) overlying layers of mesenchymal cells (MC) has been identified as a source of intrauterine prostaglandins (PG). The objectives of the present study were: (1) to establish a technique for the isolation and culture of pure amnion EC and MC preparations, (2) to characterize the cellular expression of PGHS-II and PGHS activity within these separated amnion cells and (3) to characterize the pattern of glucocorticoid stimulation of these separated amnion cells. Term gestation human amnion was collected after elective caesarean section or vaginal delivery. A trypsin digestion was used to isolate EC and a mechanical digestion and collagenase dispersion was used to isolate MC. Following 48 or 96 h in culture, cells were incubated for 24 h in the presence or absence of 1 microm arachidonic acid and treated with cortisol (F: 10-1000 nm) or 1 microm dexamethasone (DEX). Cell types were identified by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Immunoreactive PGHS-II (ir-PGHS-II) and glucocorticoid receptor (ir-GR) were localized by IHC. PGHS activity was measured as PGE(2)output determined by radioimmunoassay. Mean PGE(2)production by MC at 72 h was 22-fold greater (P<0.05) and at 120 h was 32-fold greater (P<0.03) than PGE(2)output by EC. Administration of arachidonic acid stimulated a 5.0-fold increase in PGE(2)output (P<0.0002) by EC after 72 h and a 3.6-fold increase (P<0.05) after 120 h but did not alter MC PGE(2)output. Despite exogenous substrate, EC PGE(2)output remained significantly less than PGE(2)output by MC. There was no difference in PG production by EC and MC with the onset of labour. Ir-GR expression was found in both EC and MC. F and/or DEX with and without arachidonic acid (AA) stimulated PGE(2)output by EC. Only DEX and not F increased PGE(2)output by MC. These data suggest that relatively pure EC and MC preparations can be established from amnion. PG output and its regulation appears to differ within these two amnion cell types, dependent upon (1) substrate availability and (2) the regulation of PGHS activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amnion / cytology
  • Amnion / metabolism*
  • Arachidonic Acid / pharmacology
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cell Separation
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Isoenzymes / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / drug effects
  • Mesoderm / enzymology*
  • Peroxidases / biosynthesis*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prostaglandin H2
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / biosynthesis*
  • Prostaglandins / biosynthesis*
  • Prostaglandins H / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Prostaglandins
  • Prostaglandins H
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Prostaglandin H2
  • Dexamethasone
  • Peroxidases
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases
  • Dinoprostone
  • Hydrocortisone