Placental exosomes: A proxy to understand pregnancy complications

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84 Scopus citations


Exosomes (30- to 150-nm particles), originating from multivesicular bodies by the invagination of the endosomal membrane, are communication channels between cells. Exosomes are released by various cell types and cargo proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids reflecting the physiologic status of their cells of origin and cause functional changes in recipient cells, which are likely dependent on their quantity and/or cargo contents. Recently, placental exosomes, produced by various placental cell types, have been isolated from maternal blood using the placental protein-specific marker, placental alkaline phosphatase (PLAP). PLAP-positive exosomes are seen in maternal blood as early as the first trimester of pregnancy and increase as gestation progresses, with maximum numbers seen at term. Although the functional relevance of placental exosomes is still under investigation, several studies have linked placental exosomes changes (quantity and cargo) reflecting placental dysfunctions associated with adverse pregnancy events. As placental exosomes can be isolated from maternal blood, they are liquid biopsies reflecting placental functions. Hence, they are useful as biomarkers of placental functions and dysfunctions obtainable through non-invasive approaches. This review summarizes the biogenesis, release, and functions of exosomes and specifically expounds the role of placental-specific exosomes and their significance associated with pregnancy complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12788
JournalAmerican Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • PLAP
  • microvesicles
  • parturition
  • pregnancy
  • signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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