Hyaluronate and CD44 expression patterns in the human placenta throughout pregnancy

  • D Marzioni | support@pagepress.org PAGEPress Office, Pavia, Italy.
  • C Crescimanno
  • D Zaccheo
  • R Coppari
  • CB Underhill
  • M Castellucci


Hyaluronan (HA) and CD44 are involved in several processes such as cell migration and differentiation. In the present study, we examined the expression and distribution of both hyaluronan and its cell surface receptor (CD44) in the human placenta, which is a rapidly growing and differentiating organ that plays a fundamental role in fetal life. Hyaluronan was detected by a specific biotinylated binding probe, termed b-PG. In the first half of gestation, HA was strongly expressed in the stroma of the mesenchymal villi which have been previously identified as responsible for the growth and differentation of the villous trees. The other villous types showed an intense staining only in the fetal vessel walls and in the connective tissue closely underlying the trophoblastic cover. In addition, hyaluronan positive staining was also apparent in a restricted rim of villous stroma directly apposed to extravillous cytotrophoblastic cell islands and cell columns. In full term placentas, all villi expressed HA in their stromal tissue with a more homogenous staining than in the first half of gestation. In contrast to hyaluronan, in the first trimester CD44 was restricted to some of the Hof- bauer cells which may be able to internalize hyaluronan, thus playing a significant role in its removal in early pregnancy. CD44 was primarily expressed starting from the 16th week of gestation. At the end of pregnancy it was expressed in the various villous types, especially in stem villi. Moreover, the plasma membrane of some extravillous cytotrophoblastic cells in the basal plate and the large majority of the decidual cells showed a positive immunostaining for this receptor. Taken together, these data suggest that HA is strongly involved in early villous morphogenesis, whereas CD44 seem to be play an important role in tissue remodelling later in gestation.


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How to Cite
Marzioni, D., Crescimanno, C., Zaccheo, D., Coppari, R., Underhill, C., & Castellucci, M. (2009). Hyaluronate and CD44 expression patterns in the human placenta throughout pregnancy. European Journal of Histochemistry, 45(2), 131-40. https://doi.org/10.4081/1623