Extravillous trophoblasts (EVT) migration into the decidua is critical for establishing placental perfusion and when dysregulated, may lead to pre-eclampsia (PE) and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). The breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP; encoded by ABCG2) regulates the fusion of cytotrophoblasts into syncytiotrophoblasts and protects the fetus from maternally derived xenobiotics. Information about BCRP function in EVTs is limited, however placental exposure to bacterial/viral infection leads to BCRP downregulation in syncitiotrophoblasts. We hypothesized that BCRP is involved in the regulation of EVT function and is modulated by infection/inflammation. We report that besides syncitiotrophoblasts and cytotrophoblasts, BCRP is also expressed in EVTs. BCRP inhibits EVT cell migration in HTR8/SVneo (human EVT-like) cells and in human EVT explant cultures, while not affecting cell proliferation. We have also shown that bacterial-lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-and viral antigens-single stranded RNA (ssRNA)-have a profound effect in downregulating ABCG2 and BCRP levels, whilst simultaneously increasing the migration potential of EVT-like cells. Our study reports a novel function of BCRP in early placentation and suggests that exposure of EVTs to maternal infection/inflammation could disrupt their migration potential via the downregulation of BCRP. This could negatively influence placental development/function, contribute to existing obstetric pathologies, and negatively impact pregnancy outcomes and maternal/neonatal health.
Keywords: Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP/ABCG2); extra villous trophoblast; first trimester placenta; infection; migration.