During human placentation, fetal cytotrophoblast stem cells differentiate and then invade the uterine wall and its associated spiral arteries. This process anchors the placenta to the uterus and supplies maternal blood to the fetus. Cytotrophoblast invasion in vitro requires the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9). Recently, we showed that cytotrophoblasts produce interleukin-10 (IL-10), a potent immunomodulatory cytokine that could have paracrine effects on the maternal immune system. IL-10 synthesis is dramatically downregulated after the first 12 h of culture, while MMP-9 secretion is rapidly upregulated and the cells acquire an invasive phenotype. These observations prompted us to investigate whether IL-10 is an autocrine regulator of cytotrophoblast MMP-9 production. We found that the cells expressed IL-10 receptor mRNA, suggesting that autocrine effects are possible. Adding recombinant IL-10 to cytotrophoblast cultures significantly decreased the cells' MMP-9 expression at both protein and mRNA levels, but did not affect mRNA levels of the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3. Thus, IL-10 may alter the proteinase/inhibitor balance. IL-10 treatment further caused a net decrease in MMP activity, thereby reducing cytotrophoblast invasiveness. An antibody that neutralized endogenous IL-10 function had the opposite effect in all experiments. Together, these data suggest that IL-10 is an autocrine inhibitor of cytotrophoblast MMP-9 activity and invasiveness.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.