Evidence for a shift in placental HLA-G allelic dominance and the HLA-G isoform profile during a healthy pregnancy and pre-eclampsia

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Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-G is a non-classical class Ib major expressed by placental trophoblast cells plays a central role in establishing tolerance to the semi-allogeneic fetus and in placentation. HLA-G exists in different soluble or membrane-bound isoforms. Pre-eclampsia, a major cause of fetal and maternal morbidity and mortality, has been linked to insufficient placentation and an altered immune response in pregnancy, including altered HLA-G expression. The 14 bp insertion/deletion polymorphism in the 3' untranslated region of the gene and the isoform profile may affect HLA-G expression. The aim of the current pilot study was to characterize the expression patterns of HLAG mRNA, protein and isoform profile in uncomplicated term pregnancies and in cases of pre-eclampsia. Maternal sHLA-G mRNA and protein levels was slightly reduced in pre-eclampsia. No difference was found for placental blood, and no correlation between peripheral and placental sHLA-G levels was found. We observed no association between neither fetal nor maternal HLA-G 14 bp insertion/deletion genotypes and pre-eclampsia, nor a significant difference in isoform profiles. However, in HLA-G 14 bp insertion/deletion heterozygous placental samples, we observed abundant HLA-G1 14 bp insertion allele expression in the term placentae, which is contrary to previous findings in first trimester trophoblast. Increased HLA-G1 14 bp insertion allele expression in the placenta was associated with reduced levels of placental sHLA-G and an altered isoform profile with increased relative levels of HLA-G1 and -G5 and reduced levels of HLA-G3. The results indicate that an allelic shift in heterozygous individuals could represent a novel regulatory pathway.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)846–858
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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