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Keywords:

  • Epidermal growth factor receptor;
  • ECF;
  • transferrin receptor trophoblast

ABSTRACT: Epidermal growth factor (EGF) has several roles, including stimulation of cell division and differentiation. EGF receptor (EGFR) has been localized to villous syncytiotrophoblast, but expression by other human trophoblast populations has not been reported. EGFR expression was examined in normal and pathological placental tissues using a streptavidin-biotin-peroxidase technique; results were compared with expression of transferrin receptor (Tf-R) in similar tissues. EGFR was detected on villous syncytiotrophoblast in early and term pregnancy with labelling of the apical membrane, focal cytoplasmic reactivity, and patchy labelling of the trophoblast basement membrane. In contrast with other reports, EGFR was also consistently localized to villous cytotrophoblast, chorion laeve, and extravillous trophoblast populations in maternal uterine tissues. Maternal decidua showed diffuse labelling of stromal cells, particularly in the superficial zones. The reaction pattern in ectopic tubal pregnancy was similar to that in early intrauterine pregnancy. In molar pregnancy, EGFR was detected on villous syncytiotrophoblast and cytotrophoblast. In contrast, in normal, ectopic, and molar pregnancies labelling for Tf-R was confined to syncytiotrophoblast and to the proximal portions of the cytotrophoblast columns. Expression of EGFR by all trophoblast cells may represent a mechanism of placental growth and proliferation control. EGFR may also be involved with establishment of differentiated trophoblast functions including hormone secretion.