GM-CSF and CSF-1 stimulate DNA synthesis but not cell proliferation in short-term cultures of mid-gestation murine trophoblast

Belinda L. Drake, Judith R. Head

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Short-term cultures of purified murine trophoblast were used to investigate the potential trophic effects of a number of cytokines. Both granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and colony stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1) increased [3H]thymidine (TdR) uptake (3-8 times control values) by trophoblast harvested from placentae on day 12 or 14 of pregnancy. In contrast, interleukin-3 (IL-3) had only a mild stimulatory effect ([3H]TdR uptake 1.5 times control), and IL-2 did not alter the level of DNA synthesis in these cells. Immunocytochemical analysis confirmed that the cells engaged in DNA synthesis were cytokeratin-positive trophoblast cells and revealed that these cells predominantly bore markers (alkaline phosphate, transferrin receptors) characteristic of trophoblast cells from the placental labyrinth. The increased DNA synthesis observed after exposure to GM-CSF or CSF-1 was not associated with a change in the proportion of nuclei involved in synthesis, nor did it result in significantly increased trophoblast cell numbers in the cultures. These findings suggest that DNA-synthesizing trophoblast cells were not proliferating, but were more likely engaged in endoreduplicative cycles leading to the formation of terminally differentiated trophoblast giant cells. These results caution against the presumption of proliferation when measuring [3H]thymidine incorporation by placental or trophoblast cells in standard in vitro cultures. In addition, taken together with the reports of high levels of CSF-1 in the pregnant uterus and the expression of the CSF-1 receptor on placental trophoblast cells, they suggest that the hemopoietic cytokines may play a role in the differentiation and/or function of trophoblast cells in the developing murine placenta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-56
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of reproductive immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994


  • Colony stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1)
  • Cytokines
  • Granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF)
  • Placenta
  • Trophoblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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