Expression of erythropoietin mRNA, protein and receptor in ovine fetal membranes

M. J. Kim, L. Bogic, C. Y. Cheung, R. A. Brace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Erythropoietin and its receptor have been identified in human, murine and ovine placentas. Based on the common embryonic origin of the placenta and fetal membranes, we postulated that erythropoietin is similarly expressed in the fetal membranes. Using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, we tested the hypothesis that ovine fetal membranes are sites of erythropoietin production and action. At 86, 103 and 138 days gestation, erythropoietin mRNA and protein were present in the amnion localized to the cell layer consisting largely of amniotic epithelium and in the chorion localized to the chorionic columnar cells consisting of cytotrophoblasts. Binucleate cells, differentiated cytotrophoblasts known to produce hormones, were identified in the chorion in the region of erythropoietin expression but were not observed in amniotic tissue. The erythropoietin receptor protein was present in the amnion and chorion at 103 and 138 days gestation but was not observed in either tissue at 86 days. In summary, erythropoietin appears to be produced as well as utilized within the ovine amnion and chorion. Within the amnion, the amniotic epithelial cells express the erythropoietin gene whereas, within the chorion, either the cytotrophoblasts or the binuclear cells may be the source. Due to the presence of the receptor, we speculate that the erythropoietin produced in the membranes may mediate fetal membrane function and/or growth through an autocrine and/or paracrine mechanism. Further, the fetal membranes may be the source of erythropoietin in the amniotic fluid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-851
Number of pages6
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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