Isolation of serum-derived placental/amnio-chorionic extracellular vesicles across pregnancy by immunoaffinity using PLAP and HLA-G

Reproduction. 2024 Mar 22;167(4):e230215. doi: 10.1530/REP-23-0215. Print 2024 Apr 1.


In brief: Circulating extracellular vesicles of placental/amniochorionic origin carry placental/amniochorionic proteins and nucleic acids with the potential to facilitate non-invasive diagnosis of pregnancy-related disorders. The study reports an improvised method for the enriched isolation of extracellular vesicles of placental/amniochorionic origin using the two markers, PLAP and HLA-G.

Abstract: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane-bound nanovesicles secreted from the cells into extracellular space and body fluids. They are considered 'fingerprints of parent cells', which can reflect their physiological and functional states. During pregnancy, EVs are produced by the syncytiotrophoblasts and extravillous trophoblasts and are released into the maternal bloodstream. In the present study, placental alkaline phosphatase (PLAP)-specific extracellular vesicles were isolated from maternal serum-derived EVs (SDE) across pregnancy. Transmission electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering analysis showed that the isolated EVs exhibited a spherical morphology with ~30-150 nm size range. Nanoparticle tracking analysis indicated that the concentration of PLAP+ serum-derived EVs (PLAP+-SDE) increased across the gestation. PLAP+-SDE contained DNA with LINE1 promoter methylation pattern. C19 miRNA cluster miRNAs (miR 515-5p, 519e and 520f) were present in PLAP+-SDE along with other miRNAs (miR-133-3p, miR210-3p and miR-223-3p). PLAP+-SDE confirmed the presence of EV markers (CD63 and CD9), along with placental proteins (PLAP and cullin 7). A modified novel strategy to extract an enriched population of circulating placental/amniochorionic EVs was devised employing an additional marker of extravillous trophoblasts, human leukocyte antigen G (HLA-G), along with PLAP. The isolated pooled placental/amniochorionic (PLAP+&HLA-G+) serum-derived EVs (PP-SDE) showed ~two-fold increased protein levels of HLA-G in the third-trimester pregnant women compared to the non-pregnant controls. Future studies will be focused on validation of this novel strategy to isolate an enriched population of placental/amniochorionic EVs to facilitate a better understanding of placental physiology and pathophysiology.

MeSH terms

  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Female
  • HLA-G Antigens / metabolism
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Proteins* / metabolism
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism


  • HLA-G Antigens
  • MicroRNAs
  • Pregnancy Proteins
  • MIRN515 microRNA, human