Soluble TRAIL is elevated in recurrent miscarriage and inhibits the in vitro adhesion and migration of HTR8 trophoblastic cells

Chiara Agostinis, Roberta Bulla, Veronica Tisato, Francesco De Seta, Salvatore Alberico, Paola Secchiero, Giorgio Zauli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


STUDY QUESTIONWhat is the potential physiopathological role of tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) in recurrent miscarriage (RM), characterized by at least three consecutive pregnancy losses. SUMMARY ANSWERThe levels of serum TRAIL immediately after miscarriage in RM patients are significantly elevated with respect to that in first-trimester normal pregnant women, and recombinant TRAIL inhibits the adhesion and migration of HTR8 trophoblastic cells in vitro. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADYBoth TRAIL and its trans-membrane receptors (TRAIL-R1, TRAIL-R2, TRAIL-R3 and TRAIL-R4) have been documented in the placenta, but their physiopathological role is incompletely understood. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATIONThe study populations consisted of RM patients (n=80) and first-trimester normal pregnant women (n=80). Blood samples were obtained within 24 h after abortion (RM) or at gestational 12-week (normal pregnant women). As additional controls, third-trimester normal pregnant women (n=28) were examined before (within 72 h) and after (within 24 h) partum. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODSThe concentrations of TRAIL were analysed in serum samples by ELISA. In parallel, the effect of soluble recombinant TRAIL (0.11000 ng/ml) was analysed on the survival of primary extravillus trophoblasts (EVTs) and on the survival, proliferation, adhesion and migration of trophoblastic HTR8 cells. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCEThe circulating levels of TRAIL in RM women (median: 52.5 pg/ml; mean and SD: 55.5 ± 24.4 pg/ml) were significantly higher with respect to first-trimester normal pregnant women (median: 44.9 pg/ml; mean and SD: 47 ± 15.1 pg/ml) and third-trimester normal pregnant women, as assessed before (median: 45.1 pg/ml; mean and SD: 46 ± 12.4 pg/ml) and after partum (median: 35.4 pg/ml; mean and SD: 38 17.5 pg/ml). Both primary EVT and HTR8 cells expressed detectable levels of TRAIL death receptors, but exposure to soluble recombinant TRAIL did not induce cell death of trophoblastic cells. On the other hand, TRAIL dose-dependently inhibited the adhesion of HTR8 cells to decidual endothelial cells (DEC) as well as the migration of HTR8 in transwell assays using either fibronectin or DEC. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTIONAlthough this study suggests that TRAIL might have a pathogenic role in RM by inhibiting both the adhesion and migration capabilities of first trimester trophoblastic cells, there is a possibility that the elevated serum levels of TRAIL in RM are not cause but rather the result of RM. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGSOur current findings together with data of other authors suggest that circulating TRAIL should be further analysed as a potential important biomarker in different physiopathological settings. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)This study was funded by FIRB projects (RBAP11Z4Z9-002 to Giorgio Zauli and RBAP10447J-002 to Paola Secchiero). The authors have no competing interests to declare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2941-2947
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • cell adhesion
  • cell migration
  • recurrent miscarriage
  • trophoblasts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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