Influence of maternal BMI on the exosomal profile during gestation and their role on maternal systemic inflammation

Placenta. 2017 Feb:50:60-69. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2016.12.020. Epub 2016 Dec 21.


Recent studies report that 35% of women are either overweight or obese at reproductive age. The placenta continuously releases exosomes across gestation and their concentration is higher in pregnancy complications. While there is considerable interest in elucidating the role of exosomes during gestation, important questions remain to be answered: i) Does maternal BMI affect the exosomal profile across gestation? and ii) What is the contribution of placenta-derived exosomes to the total number of exosomes present in maternal plasma across gestation? Plasma samples were classified according to the maternal BMI into three groups (n = 15 per group): Lean, overweight, and obese. Total exosomes and specific placenta-derived exosomes were determined by Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NanoSight™) using quantum dots coupled with CD63 or PLAP antibodies. The effect of exosomes on cytokine (IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and TNF-α) release from endothelial cells was established by cytokine array analysis (Bioplex-200). The total number of exosomes present in maternal circulation was strongly correlated with maternal BMI. Between ∼12% and ∼25% of circulating exosomes in maternal blood are of placental origin during gestation, and the contribution of placental exosomes to the total exosomal population decreases with higher maternal BMI across gestation. Exosomes increase IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-α release from endothelial cells, an effect even higher when exosomes were isolated from obese women compared to lean and overweight. This study established that maternal BMI is a factor that explains a significant component of the variation in the exosomes data. Exosomes may contribute to the maternal systemic inflammation during pregnancy.

Keywords: Cytokines; Exosomes; Obesity; Placenta; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines