Microvesicles and exosomes released by amnion epithelial cells under oxidative stress cause inflammatory changes in uterine cells

Hend I. Shahin, Enkhtuya Radnaa, Ourlad Alzeus G. Tantengco, Talar Kechichian, Ananth Kumar Kammala, Samantha Sheller-Miller, Brandie D. Taylor, Ramkumar Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Extracellular vesicles play a crucial role in feto-maternal communication and provide an important paracrine signaling mechanism in pregnancy. We hypothesized that fetal cells-derived exosomes and microvesicles (MVs) under oxidative stress (OS) carry unique cargo and traffic through feto-maternal interface, which cause inflammation in uterine cells associated with parturition. Exosomes and MVs, from primary amnion epithelial cell (AEC) culture media under normal or OS-induced conditions, were isolated by optimized differential centrifugation method followed by characterization for size (nanoparticle tracking analyzer), shape (transmission electron microscopy), and protein markers (western blot and immunofluorescence). Cargo and canonical pathways were identified by mass spectroscopy and ingenuity pathway analysis. Myometrial, decidual, and cervical cells were treated with 1 × 107 control/OS-derived exosomes/MVs. Pro-inflammatory cytokines were measured using a Luminex assay. Statistical significance was determined by paired T-test (P < 0.05). AEC produced cup-shaped exosomes of 90-150 nm and circular MVs of 160-400 nm. CD9, heat shock protein 70, and Nanog were detected in exosomes, whereas OCT-4, human leukocyte antigen G, and calnexin were found in MVs. MVs, but not exosomes, were stained for phosphatidylserine. The protein profiles for control versus OS-derived exosomes and MVs were significantly different. Several inflammatory pathways related to OS were upregulated that were distinct between exosomes and MVs. Both OS-derived exosomes and MVs significantly increased pro-inflammatory cytokines (granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and IL-8) in maternal cells compared with control (P < 0.05). Our findings suggest that fetal-derived exosomes and MVs under OS exhibited distinct characteristics and a synergistic inflammatory role in uterine cells associated with the initiation of parturition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-480
Number of pages17
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • exosomes
  • microvesicles
  • oxidative stress
  • parturition
  • preterm birth
  • uterine cells
  • uterine inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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