Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) signalling regulates human placental trophoblast cell survival

Mambarath A. Jaleel, Amy C. Tsai, Sumita Sarkar, Paula V. Freedman, Lewis P. Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1 or CXCL12) is the physiologic ligand for the chemokine receptor CXCR4. CXCR4-mediated signalling regulates cell migration and apoptosis in certain haematopoietic and neuronal cells. Using gene profiling, we determined that CXCR4 is the only chemokine receptor for which mRNA expression is regulated during trophoblast differentiation in vitro. Based on the known effects of CXCR4 ligation, we hypothesized that CXCR4 activation may regulate placental trophoblast cell survival (i.e. protection from apoptosis), an important mechanism for the establishment and maintenance of the uteroplacental barrier. Human cytotrophoblasts (CTBs) were cultured in defined media and treated with graded doses of SDF-1 (10-100 ng/ml) or with an anti-CXCR4 neutralizing antibody. Exposure to anti-CXCR4 antibody reduced CTB cell numbers by 25-40%. Treatment with SDF-1 decreased the proportions of apoptotic terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-FITC nick-end labelling(+) cells (apoptotic index [AI] of 2.79 ± 0.61% [control] versus 1.88 ± 0.56% [SDF-1]; P < 0.05) and caspase-activated cells (AI of 7.95 ± 2.49% [control] versus 3.81 ± 1.49% [SDF-1]; P < 0.05). We determined that SDF-1 also activated the triple MAP Kinase isoforms ERK1/2 and p38 in trophoblasts. Immunocytochemistry confirmed SDF-1-induced nuclear translocation of phosphorylated ERK1/2. Blocking of ERK1/2 signalling with the specific inhibitor PD98059 reversed SDF-1-mediated inhibition of apoptosis (AI of 1.65 ± 0.34 [SDF-1] versus 3.50 ± 0.5 [SDF-1 + PD98059]; P < 0.05), suggesting that SDF-1 acts through this pathway as a trophoblast survival factor. These results indicate that SDF-1/CXCR4 signalling stimulates anti-apoptotic pathways in cultured trophoblasts. This chemotactic ligand/receptor system may promote trophoblast survival during pregnancy. Alterations in SDF-1 and/or CXCR4 expression or function may be associated with specific pregnancy disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-909
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Apoptosis
  • Chemokines
  • Placenta
  • Trophoblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) signalling regulates human placental trophoblast cell survival'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this