• Human placenta;
  • isolation method;
  • Percoll gradient;
  • villous trophoblast

Problem  The uniqueness of the human placenta cannot be replaced by animal models. In vitro studies are compulsory to elucidate the biology of human placenta and require isolation and purification of villous trophoblasts, which can be used in molecular and functional studies. Constant improvement in the isolation technique is required to obtain a high yield of pure trophoblast cells with high viability and well preserved morphology.

Method of study  Optimized isolation procedure for human villous trophoblasts based on mild enzymatic treatment, Percoll gradient centrifugation and additional purification step involving positive or negative immunoselection on magnetic beads is described.

Results  A simple and effective isolation protocol gave a reasonably high yield of villous trophoblast cells with high purity and viability, and excellent morphology as assessed by flow cytometry and electron microscopy.

Conclusion  This protocol provides an efficient, optimized method for isolation and enrichment of villous trophoblast cells, suitable for phenotypic, ultrastructural, molecular and functional analyses and for establishment of primary cultures.