Trefoil factor family peptides in the human foetus and at birth
Article first published online: 25 FEB 2011
© 2011 The Authors. European Journal of Clinical Investigation © 2011 Stichting European Society for Clinical Investigation Journal Foundation
European Journal of Clinical Investigation
Volume 41, Issue 7, pages 785–792, July 2011
How to Cite
Samson, M. H., Poulsen, S. S., Obeid, R., Herrmann, W. and Nexo, E. (2011), Trefoil factor family peptides in the human foetus and at birth. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 41: 785–792. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2011.02489.x
- Issue published online: 9 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 25 FEB 2011
- Received 1 July 2010; accepted 20 January 2011
Eur J Clin Invest 2011; 41 (7): 785–792
Background Trefoil factors (TFF1-3) are cysteine-rich peptides secreted by mucosal surfaces. Changing levels of expression are reflected in serum concentrations. Serum levels of TFF2 and TFF3 are highly elevated during pregnancy. Here, we explore a possible foetal origin of these increased levels.
Materials and methods We examined the expression of trefoil peptides in foetal tissues, placentas and foetal membranes from midterm abortions by immunohistochemistry. Employing in-house ELISAs, serum concentrations of TFF1-3 were measured in 92 paired samples of cord and maternal blood prior to delivery. Size exclusion chromatography was used to investigate the molecular forms of TFF1-3.
Results Immunohistochemistry showed all trefoil peptides to be present during foetal life, but compared to adults with a more widespread expression of TFF2 and TFF3 in the stomach and Brunner’s glands. No trefoil peptides were seen in placentas or foetal membranes. Median serum concentrations of TFF1 in cord blood were comparable to those observed in the (mother) [0·42 (0·37) nM, P = 0·25], whereas TFF2 and TFF3 showed lower values than in the mother [0·11 (0·69), and 1·2 (6·7) nM, respectively, P < 0·0001 for both peptides]. Size exclusion chromatography showed comparable patterns in mothers and newborns.
Conclusions All three trefoil peptides are expressed in foetal tissues but not in placenta or foetal membranes. Cord blood contains high levels of all three peptides, although for TFF2 and TFF3 at considerably lower levels than observed in the mother. Thus, the elevated serum levels of TFF2 and TFF3 in the pregnant women were most likely not of foetal origin.