A single-cell survey of the human first-trimester placenta and decidua

Sci Adv. 2018 Oct 31;4(10):eaau4788. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau4788. eCollection 2018 Oct.


The placenta and decidua interact dynamically to enable embryonic and fetal development. Here, we report single-cell RNA sequencing of 14,341 and 6754 cells from first-trimester human placental villous and decidual tissues, respectively. Bioinformatic analysis identified major cell types, many known and some subtypes previously unknown in placental villi and decidual context. Further detailed analysis revealed proliferating subpopulations, enrichment of cell type-specific transcription factors, and putative intercellular communication in the fetomaternal microenvironment. This study provides a blueprint to further the understanding of the roles of these cells in the placenta and decidua for maintenance of early gestation as well as pathogenesis in pregnancy-related disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Chorionic Villi / metabolism*
  • Decidua / cytology
  • Decidua / metabolism*
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Placenta / cytology
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First / genetics*
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods*
  • Trophoblasts / cytology
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers