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mRNA and Protein Expression in Human Fetal Membrane Cells: Potential Biomarkers for Preterm Prelabor Rupture of the Fetal Membranes?

Abstract: Clinically, unique markers in fetal membrane cells may contribute to the search for biomarkers for preterm prelabor rupture of the fetal membranes (pPROM) in maternal blood. pPROM is associated with overwhelming inflammation and premature cellular senescence causing “biological microfractures” of the fetal membranes. We hypothesize that these pathological processes are associated with the shedding of fetal membrane cells into the maternal circulation. The aim of this study was to identify markers expressed exclusively in fetal membrane cells to facilitate their isolation, characterization, and determination of biomarker potential in maternal blood. We have (1), by their transcriptomic profile, identified markers that are upregulated in amnion and chorion tissue compared to maternal white blood cells, and (2), by immunohistochemistry, confirmed the localization of the differentially expressed proteins in fetal membranes, placenta, and the placental bed of the uterus. RNA sequencing revealed 31 transcripts in the amnion and 42 transcripts in the chorion that were upregulated. Among these, 22 proteins were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. All but two transcripts were expressed both on mRNA and protein level in at least one fetal membrane cell type. Among these remaining 20 proteins, 9 proteins were not significantly expressed in the villous and extravillous trophoblasts of the placenta.