The role of placental exosomes in reproduction

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2010 Jun;63(6):520-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0897.2010.00822.x. Epub 2010 Mar 11.


Cell communication comprises cell-cell contact, soluble mediators and intercellular nanotubes. There is, however, another cell-cell communication by released membrane-bound microvesicles that convey cell-cell contact 'by proxy' transporting signals/packages of information from donor to recipient cells locally and/or at a distance. The nanosized exosomes comprise a specialized type of microvesicles generated within multivesicular bodies (MVB) and released upon MVB fusion with the plasma membrane. Exosomes are produced by a variety of immune, epithelial and tumor cells. Upon contact, exosomes transfer molecules that can render new properties and/or reprogram their recipient cells. Recently, it was discovered that the syncytiotrophoblast constitutively and throughout the pregnancy secretes exosomes. The placenta-derived exosomes are immunosuppressive and carry proteins and RNA molecules that in a redundant way influence a number of mechanisms and promote the fetal allograft survival. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the nature of placenta-derived exosomes and discuss their role in pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Exosomes* / immunology
  • Exosomes* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta / ultrastructure*
  • Pregnancy / immunology
  • Pregnancy / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction