Large variability of trophoblast gene expression within and between human normal term placentae

Placenta. 2004 May;25(5):469-73. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2003.10.016.


Human placenta extracts are widely used in clinical and fundamental research, particularly to study the hormonal and exchange functions of the placenta. However, very little is known about the distribution of the main hormone mRNAs in the placenta as a whole. Total placenta extracts are heterogeneous in their cellular components, as they contain material of both fetal and maternal origin, and in their structure. Results vary greatly depending upon the location of the biopsy and the number of biopsies performed. We used real-time quantitative RT-PCR to determine whether transcripts corresponding to the main hormones secreted by the human placenta (e.g. hCG, HPL and PGH) are equally distributed within and between term placentae. We also measured cytokeratin 7 transcripts, which are specifically expressed in the trophoblast, and transcripts corresponding to nuclear receptors PPARgamma and RXRalpha. A comparison of the results obtained with 12 different samples from each of four normal term placentae revealed that the amounts of transcripts differ considerably within and between each placenta. This emphasizes the need to study large numbers of samples when looking for significant differences in gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Glycoprotein Hormones, alpha Subunit / genetics
  • Growth Hormone / genetics
  • Humans
  • Keratin-7
  • Keratins / genetics
  • PPAR gamma / genetics
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Placental Hormones / genetics
  • Placental Lactogen / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Retinoid X Receptor alpha / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism*


  • GH2 protein, human
  • Glycoprotein Hormones, alpha Subunit
  • KRT7 protein, human
  • Keratin-7
  • PPAR gamma
  • Placental Hormones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Retinoid X Receptor alpha
  • Keratins
  • Growth Hormone
  • Placental Lactogen