The appearance of oncofetal fibronectin (FFN) in cervical and vaginal secretions is predictive of human labor. Levels of FFN in amnion increase with the onset of labor in rhesus monkeys. Since glucocorticoid (GC) levels in serum and amniotic fluid increase in association with parturition, we compared GC-mediated regulation of FFN expression in cultures of amnion epithelial cells and fibroblasts isolated from human and baboon amnions. Cells were maintained with and without dexamethasone (DEX), and levels of FFN in the conditioned media were determined by ELISA. We observed that DEX treatment suppressed FFN levels in both human and baboon amnion epithelial cells, whereas it increased FFN levels in amnion fibroblasts. DEX treatment reduced FFN levels in cytotrophoblasts from human placenta and increased FFN levels in placental fibroblasts. Northern blots revealed that DEX reduced levels of fibronectin (FN) mRNA in amnion epithelial cells and cytotrophoblasts, whereas it increased FN mRNA in amnion and placental fibroblasts. We conclude that GC differentially regulates FFN expression in epithelial and mesenchymal cells from amnion and placenta. In addition, this pattern of cell type-specific FFN regulation by GC is conserved in human and nonhuman primates and may be responsible for parturition-dependent changes in FFN expression in gestational tissues.
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