Human amnion epithelial cells reduce fetal brain injury in response to intrauterine inflammation
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Research › peer-review
Intrauterine infection, such as occurs in chorioamnionitis, is a principal cause of preterm birth and is a strong risk factor for neurological morbidity and cerebral palsy. This study aims to examine whether human amnion epithelial cells (hAECs) can be used as a potential therapeutic agent to reduce brain injury induced by intra-amniotic administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in preterm fetal sheep. Pregnant ewes underwent surgery at approximately 110 days of gestation (term is approx. 147 days) for implantation of catheters into the amniotic cavity, fetal trachea, carotid artery and jugular vein. LPS was administered at 117 days; hAECs were labeled with carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester and administered at 0, 6 and 12 h, relative to LPS administration, into the fetal jugular vein, trachea or both. Control fetuses received an equivalent volume of saline. Brains were collected 7 days later for histological assessment of brain injury. Microglia (Iba-1-positive cells) were present in the brain of all fetuses and were significantly increased in the cortex, subcortical and periventricular white matter in fetuses that received LPS, indicative of inflammation. Inflammation was reduced in fetuses that received hAECs. In LPS fetuses, the number of TUNEL-positive cells was significantly elevated in the cortex, periventricular white matter, subcortical white matter and hippocampus compared with controls, and reduced in fetuses that received hAECs in the cortex and periventricular white matter. Within the fetal brains studied there was a significant positive correlation between the number of Iba-1-immunoreactive cells and the number of TUNEL-positive cells (R(2) = 0.19, p <0.001). The administration of hAECs protects the developing brain when administered concurrently with the initiation of intrauterine inflammation.