Human reproduction (Oxford, England) vol:21 issue:1 pages:193-201
BACKGROUND: The interactions of trophoblasts with the cytokine network at the fetomaternal interface determine the pathway the cell undertakes, e.g. proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. METHODS: We used cultures of fusigenic BeWo and non-fusigenic JEG-3 choriocarcinoma cells to study the effects of inducers of syncytialisation (forskolin) and apoptosis [tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha)] on differentiation, viability, proliferation and apoptosis. RESULTS: E-cadherin immunostaining showed that syncytium formation was confined to BeWo and not JEG-3 cells, while secretion of hCG was promoted by forskolin in both cell types implying a 'dissociation' between morphological and biochemical differentiation. Forskolin also had differential effects on cell viability (MTT reduction test) and proliferation (Ki67 immunostaining with MIB-1 monoclonal antibody), both decreasing in BeWo and increasing in JEG-3 cells. TNFalpha increased apoptosis (cytokeratin neo-epitope immunostaining with M30 monoclonal antibody) in both cell types, an effect which was blocked by epidermal growth factor selectively in JEG-3 cells. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the differential responses of BeWo and JEG-3 cells to inducers of syncytialization and apoptosis might be related to their fusigenic capacity. Caution is needed when extrapolating results obtained by these models to normal trophoblast populations. However, we speculate that these models can help identify key factors involved in trophoblast differentiation at the placental bed.