Eph and ephrin expression in normal placental development and preeclampsia

D. Goldman-Wohl, C. Greenfield, R. Haimov-Kochman, I. Ariel, E. Y. Anteby, D. Hochner-Celnikier, M. Farhat, S. Yagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Eph receptors and their ephrin ligands play a fundamental role in embryogenesis. Their functions include cell targeting and angiogenesis. In placental development, trophoblasts migrate and invade maternal tissue and spiral arteries, where they play a role in both anchoring the placenta to the uterus and increasing blood flow to the developing fetus (interstitial and endovascular invasions). We investigated the cellular distribution and expression patterns of representative Eph and ephrin RNA and protein in an effort to identify the molecules involved in trophoblast migration during normal placental development and placental pathologies. We found ephrin-A1 expressed exclusively in the invasive extravillous trophoblast (EVT) cell lineage. We therefore proceeded to investigate ephrin-A1 in placental pathologies with defects in EVT invasion. In preeclampsia, where trophoblast invasion is shallow, we observed ephrin-A1 expression similar to normal placenta. Furthermore, in initial experiments on the deeply invading trophoblasts of placenta accreta, which lacks decidua, ephrin-A1 is found to be expressed highly in extravillous trophoblasts that have invaded the myometrium. In addition, we found the prototype ephrin-A1 receptor, EphA2, localized in several placental cell types. EphB4 and ephrin-B2 molecules, which have specific expression patterns during artery and vein development, respectively, were also expressed in the placenta. The cell specific distribution of ephrin-A1 suggests that it may play a role in targeting and migration of trophoblasts, and in the vascular remodeling induced by the invading extravillous trophoblasts. Failure of ephrin-A1 expression is unlikely to be the primary cause in defective migration of trophoblasts observed in preeclampsia. Specific roles for other Eph and ephrin proteins remain to be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-630
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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