The present study investigated the ability of human choriodecidua to induce myometrial cell apoptosis through the secretion of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF). The secretion of TNF was evaluated in the culture supernatants of amnion and choriodecidua explants that were exposed to the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to mimic inflammation. The choriodecidua explants produced more TNF than the amnion explants in response to LPS stimulation, despite the fact that the choriodecidua had lower levels of TLR4 expression. Moreover, conditioned medium obtained from LPS-treated choriodecidua explants, but not that from amnion explants, decreased the number of viable cultured myometrial cells and induced cell apoptosis by inducing the overexpression of the proapoptotic protein BAX and by decreasing the expression of the anti-apoptotic protein BCL2. Neutralization of TNF in the choriodecidua-conditioned medium reversed this effect. Exogenous TNF mimicked LPS-treated choriodecidua-conditioned medium in that it induced myometrial cell apoptosis, reduced BCL2 expression, and increased BAX expression. Using neutralizing antibodies against both subtypes of TNF receptors, we found that only TNFRSF1A participates in TNF-induced myometrial cell apoptosis. Our in vitro model of LPS-induced inflammation of human fetal membrane explants suggests a mechanism by which TNF secreted by choriodecidua governs human myometrial cell apoptosis at the end of pregnancy. These data support the hypothesis that TNF participates in the complex network of signaling processes associated with uterine involution.
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