Comparative localization of endothelial and inducible nitric oxide synthase isoforms in haemochorial and epitheliochorial placentae

T. J. Zarlingo, A. L.W. Eis, D. E. Brockman, W. Kossenjans, L. Myatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The presence and immunolocalization of type II (inducible or macrophage) and type III (endothelial) nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms were compared in the term placentae of humans, rhesus monkeys, baboons, guinea-pigs, rats and sheep using isoform specific antibodies. In the human placenta, intense immunohistochemical staining for type III NOS was seen in syncytiotrophoblast with weaker staining in vascular endothelial cells. Only vascular endothelial cells showed positive type III NOS staining in rhesus monkey, baboon, guinea-pig, rat and sheep placentae. No positive type III NOS immunostaining was seen in trophoblast from any non-human placentae. Western blotting revealed a 135-kDa type III NOS species in placental homogenates, semi-purified by ADP-sepharose affinity chromatography, from all the species tested confirming antibody specificity. Type II NOS immunostaining was localized to certain villous stromal cells which also stained for CD14 (a monocyte/macrophage marker) in the placenta of humans, rhesus monkeys, baboons and sheep. No specific immunohistochemical staining for type II NOS or CD14 was noted in the two rodent species, guinea-pig and rat. On Western blots, a 130-kDa type II NOS species was identified in semi-purified placental homogenates of every species except guinea-pig, although weak bands were seen for rhesus monkey and baboon. The failure of the antibodies to show type II NOS in the rat placenta by immunohistochemistry may be due to a difference in antigen conformation from Western blots. As only human placental syncytiotrophoblast expresses type III NOS, the putative functions ascribed to this isoform in syncytiotrophoblast, i.e. to prevent platelet and leucocyte aggregation in the intervillous space and adhesion to the trophoblast surface or to mediate peptide hormone release from trophoblast, may be unique to humans. Alternatively, syncytiotrophoblast-derived NO may fulfil some other unknown function. The similar pattern of expression of type II NOS in those species with villous fetomaternal interdigitation and multivillous fetomaternal blood flow interrelations may represent a more universal role in surveillance and/or protection against maternal insults or pathogens by immunologic activation and subsequent synthesis of nitric oxide which exerts a cytostatic/cytotoxic response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-520
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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