It has been proposed that four members of the aquaporin family (AQPs 1, 3, 8, and 9) are involved in the control of amniotic fluid (AF) homeostasis, as illustrated by their differential expression patterns in normal and pathological human term fetal membranes. However, there are no data available to date on their ontogeny throughout pregnancy. Our objective was to determine spatiotemporal expression profiles of the mRNA and proteins of all 13 members of this transmembrane channel family. For this purpose, we used healthy fetal membranes from the first, second, and third trimesters of pregnancy. Total mRNA and proteins were extracted from total membranes and from separated amnion and chorion. Quantitative PCR, Western blot, and immunohistochemistry experiments were carried out to determine the presence of AQPs and to quantify their spatiotemporal expression patterns throughout pregnancy. The WISH cell line was tested to propose a cellular model for the role of AQPs in the amnion compartment. AQP11 expression was established in amniotic membranes at term. Aquaporins 1, 3, 8, 9, and 11 mRNA and proteins were present in amnion and chorion throughout human gestation. Each AQP has a time-specific expression pattern, with AQP1 presenting the highest variation in terms of mRNA and protein levels. The WISH cell line also expressed the same five AQPs. Taken together, these results indicate that AQPs are expressed and potentially involved in the regulation of AF homeostasis throughout pregnancy. This also clearly supports the hypothesis that abnormal expression could occur at any time during pregnancy, ultimately leading to obstetrical pathologies such as polyhydramnios or oligohydramnios.
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Vol. 86 • No. 2