Evidence for a Role of TGF-β1 in the Expression and Regulation of α-SMA in Fetal Growth Restricted Placentae

T. Todros, D. Marzioni, T. Lorenzi, E. Piccoli, L. Capparuccia, V. Perugini, S. Cardaropoli, R. Romagnoli, R. Gesuita, A. Rolfo, L. Paulesu, M. Castellucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is evidence that α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) is a protein that plays a pivotal role in the production of contractile forces and it is induced by transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). We have analysed the expression of α-SMA, TGF-β1, its receptor RI and the activator phospho-Smad2 in (a) fetal growth restriction pre-eclamptic placentae characterised by early onset and absence of end diastolic velocities in the umbilical arteries (FGR-AED) and (b) control placentae accurately matched for gestational age. The study was performed by immunohistochemical, quantitative Western blotting, ELISA, RT-PCR and in vitro analyses. We found that TGF-β1 stimulates α-SMA production in chorionic villi cultured in vitro. In addition, we observed that in vivo TGF-β1 concentration is significantly higher in FGR-AED placental samples than in control placentae and that this growth factor could have a paracrine action on villous stroma myofibroblasts expressing TGF-β1 receptors and phospho-Smad2. Indeed, we report that α-SMA undergoes a redistribution in FGR-AED placental villous tree, i.e. we show that α-SMA is enhanced in medium and small stem villi and significantly decreased in the peripheral villi. Our data allow us to consider TGF-β1 and α-SMA as key molecules related to FGR-AED placental villous tree phenotypic changes responsible for increased impedance to blood flow observable in this pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1132
Number of pages10
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


  • α-Smooth muscle actin
  • Human placenta
  • Transforming growth factor-β1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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