• Villous trophoblast;
  • extravillous trophoblasts;
  • interferons

Human trophoblast populations from first- and third-trimester placentas produce interferons (IFNs) in the presence of growth factors (CSF and PDGF) or when infected with virus. The highly invasive extravillous trophoblast population produced a higher level of IFNs (three- to eightfold, P < 0.05) than the noninvasive villous trophoblast population when stimulated with growth factors and/or virus. The level of IFN produced was dependent on the type of trophoblast population, the type of inducer and the stage of differentiation of the trophoblasts. Tandem immunoaffinity chromatography of the virus-induced trophoblast IFNs resulted in the isolation of trophoblast IFN-α and -β types. The purified trophoblast IFNs have antiviral, antiproliferative and immunoregulatory properties. Furthermore, the trophoblast IFNs inhibited the expression of proto-oncogenes such as EGF-R, c-erbB2 and c-fms reported to be involved in normal trophoblast growth and differentiation. These data suggest essential roles of interferons in normal human development during pregnancy.