In the field of preeclampsia, enormous efforts are ongoing to identify biomarkers predicting the syndrome already in the first trimester of pregnancy. At the same time, there is the need for in vitro models to test such biomarkers prior to their use in clinical trials. In addition, in vitro models may accelerate the development and evaluation of the benefit of any putative therapeutics. Therefore, in vitro systems have been established to evaluate the release of biomarkers and measure the effect of putative therapeutics using placental villous explants as well as the choriocarcinoma cell line BeWo. For explants, a cryogenic method to freeze, transport and thaw villous explants was developed to use such tissues for a multi-site tissue culture evaluation. Here we focus on three out of many in vitro models that have been established for human placental trophoblast. (1) Choriocarcinoma cell lines such as BeWo, Jeg-3 and Jar cells (2) isolated primary trophoblast cells, and (2) villous explants from normal placentas delivered at term. Cell lines were used to assess the effect of differentiation and fusion on the expression and release of a preeclampsia marker (placental protein 13; PP13) and beta-hCG. Moreover, cell lines were used to study the effect of putative preeclampsia therapeutics such as vitamins C and E, heparin and aspirin on marker release and viability. Cryopreservation of villous explants enabled shipment to a remote laboratory and testing of parameters in different countries using explants from one and the same placenta. Recently published data make it tempting to speculate that the choriocarcinoma cell line BeWo as well as fresh and cryogenically stored placental villous explants may well serve as in vitro models to study preventive and therapeutic agents in the field of preeclampsia.
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