Excessive placental inflammation is associated with several pathological conditions, including stillbirth and fetal growth restriction. Although infection is a known cause of inflammation, a significant proportion of pregnancies have evidence of inflammation without any detectable infection. Inflammation can also be triggered by endogenous mediators, called damage associated molecular patterns or alarmins. One of these damage-associated molecular patterns, uric acid, is increased in the maternal circulation in pathological pregnancies and is a known agonist of the Nlrp3 inflammasome and inducer of inflammation. However, its effects within the placenta and on pregnancy outcomes remain largely unknown. We found that uric acid (monosodium urate [MSU]) crystals induce a proinflammatory profile in isolated human term cytotrophoblast cells, with a predominant secretion of IL-1β and IL-6, a result confirmed in human term placental explants. The proinflammatory effects of MSU crystals were shown to be IL-1-dependent using a caspase-1 inhibitor (inhibits IL-1 maturation) and IL-1Ra (inhibits IL-1 signaling). The proinflammatory effect of MSU crystals was accompanied by trophoblast apoptosis and decreased syncytialization. Correspondingly, administration of MSU crystals to rats during late gestation induced placental inflammation and was associated with fetal growth restriction. These results make a strong case for an active proinflammatory role of MSU crystals at the maternal-fetal interface in pathological pregnancies, and highlight a key mediating role of IL-1. Furthermore, our study describes a novel in vivo animal model of noninfectious inflammation during pregnancy, which is triggered by MSU crystals and leads to reduced fetal growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy