Localization of endoglin, a transforming growth factor-beta binding protein, and of CD44 and integrins in placenta during the first trimester of pregnancy

Biol Reprod. 1994 Sep;51(3):405-13. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod51.3.405.


Endoglin is an integral membrane glycoprotein that binds transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF beta 1) with high affinity and is predominantly expressed on human endothelial cells. Characterization of this homodimeric protein from human term placenta has shown that it is particularly abundant on the syncytiotrophoblast. Immunofluorescence staining of sections of first trimester placenta now reveals that endoglin is found at even higher levels on the syncytiotrophoblast of samples ranging from 6 to 12 wk of gestation. Very low levels are observed on the undifferentiated cytotrophoblast cells that can be identified by their expression of the alpha 6 beta 4 integrin, a receptor for laminin. Within the villi, blood vessels and stromal cells are negative for endoglin but positive for alpha 1 beta 1 integrin, a receptor for collagens and laminin. Stromal cells also express CD44, a hyaluronic acid receptor. Of particular interest is the up-regulation of endoglin expression in the transition from polarized undifferentiated to non-polarized intermediate cytotrophoblasts (CTB) as the cells align in columns to invade the uterus. This occurs in parallel with the acquisition of alpha 5 beta 1 integrin (fibronectin receptor) and precedes the loss of alpha 6 beta 4 integrin. CD44 and alpha 1 beta 1 integrin are noticeably absent from the CTB within the columns but are expressed at very high levels throughout the placental bed. Endoglin is undetectable within the decidua; thus, intermediate CTB that have invaded the placental bed express alpha 5 beta 1 integrin and cytokeratins but not endoglin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Endoglin
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Integrins / analysis*
  • Keratins / analysis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis*
  • Placenta / chemistry*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / analysis*
  • Receptors, Fibronectin
  • Receptors, Lymphocyte Homing / analysis*
  • Trophoblasts / chemistry
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • Carrier Proteins
  • ENG protein, human
  • Endoglin
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Integrins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Fibronectin
  • Receptors, Lymphocyte Homing
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Keratins