Trophoblast Cells Are Able to Regulate Monocyte Activity to Control Toxoplasma Gondii Infection

Placenta. 2013 Mar;34(3):240-7. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2012.12.006. Epub 2013 Jan 5.


Introduction: Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that causes severe disease when the infection occurs during pregnancy. Trophoblast cells constitute an important maternal-fetal barrier, with monocytes concentrating around them. Thus, interactions between trophoblasts and monocytes are important for maintaining a successful pregnancy, especially in cases of infection. This study aimed to evaluate the role of trophoblast cells (BeWo line) on monocyte (THP-1 line) activity in the presence or absence of T. gondii infection.

Methods: THP-1 cells were stimulated with supernatants of BeWo cells, previously infected or not with T. gondii, and then infected with parasites. The supernatant of both cells were collected and analyzed for cytokine production and T. gondii proliferation in THP-1 cells was determined.

Results: The results showed that after infection, the pattern of cytokines secreted by THP-1 and BeWo cells was characterized as a pro-inflammatory profile. Furthermore, supernatant of BeWo cells infected or not, was able to change the cytokine profile secreted by infected THP-1 cells, and this supernatant became THP-1 cells more able to control T. gondii proliferation than those that had not been stimulated.

Discussion: This effect was associated with secretion of interleukin (IL)-6 by the THP-1 cells and soluble factors secreted by BeWo cells, such as IL-6 and MIF.

Conclusion: Together, these results suggest that trophoblast cells are able to modulate monocyte activity, resulting in the control of T. gondii infection and subsequent maintenance of pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Choriocarcinoma / immunology
  • Choriocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Choriocarcinoma / parasitology
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Monocytes / parasitology
  • Toxoplasma / growth & development
  • Toxoplasma / metabolism*
  • Toxoplasmosis / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / metabolism*
  • Toxoplasmosis / parasitology
  • Trophoblasts / immunology
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism*
  • Trophoblasts / parasitology


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Cytokines