2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Researchers were able to grow from cells of the human placenta a three-dimensional placenta-like organelle, which, like the real placenta, consists of several cell layers, and even produces hormones. According to the authors of the publication in Nature, the "placenta in a test tube" will help to study in detail in the laboratory the signal interaction between the woman's body and the embryo, as well as to focus on the study of fetal developmental disorders and pathologies associated with pregnancy.
Many fetal anomalies, as well as conditions such as preeclampsia (toxicosis accompanied by an abnormal increase in pressure) in pregnant women, develop as a result of a malfunction of the placenta. This organ is formed as a result of ingrowth of the embryonic membranes of the embryo (trophoblast) into the wall of the uterus and provides nutrition, respiration of the fetus and its protection from the mother's immunity. In addition, the placenta produces hormones that are necessary both to maintain the physiological status of pregnancy and to prepare for feeding the unborn child. The study of pathologies associated with the placenta has so far been difficult due to the lack of adequate models.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge, led by Ashley Moffett, have grown a genetically stable three-dimensional organoid (trophoblast) on a gel matrix that mimics the function of the placenta during the first trimester of pregnancy. Scientists have shown that such a mini-organ is able to exist in the laboratory for a long time (up to a year), and it can be "multiplied" by reseeding cells to a new matrix.
As a starting material for growing a "placenta in a test tube", the researchers took donor material - placental cells of several women, which were settled in a special matrix. In addition, the scientists had to sort through many options for the growth medium until they were able to choose the right combination of hormones and growth factors to ensure cell division and differentiation on the matrix.
Comparison of cell layers in a real placenta and a grown organoid
As the analysis of the resulting organoid showed, it formed a real villous trophoblast on the matrix, with two main populations of cells - cells of the extravillous layer, which interact with the endometrium of the uterus and maternal arteries, and syncytiotrophoblast cells, which are responsible for metabolism and hormone production. The mini-organ also turned out to be capable of producing hormones - in particular, it synthesized chorionic gonadotropin, the detection of which in urine underlies the work of rapid pregnancy tests. To confirm the production of the hormone, the authors of the work even analyzed the growth medium of the miniplacenta using such a test - the test showed a positive result.
Previously, scientists found that at the molecular level, the brood bursa of male seahorses, which instead of females carry juveniles, resembles the placenta in function.