Rosiglitazone augments antioxidant response in the human trophoblast and prevents apoptosis

Hamid Reza Kohan-Ghadr, Brian A. Kilburn, Leena Kadam, Eugenia Johnson, Bradley L. Kolb, Javier Rodriguez-Kovacs, Michael Hertz, D. Randall Armant, Sascha Drewlo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Insufficient perfusion of the trophoblast by maternal blood is associated with an increased generation of reactive oxygen species and complications of the placenta. In this study, we first examined whether rosiglitazone, an agonist of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ), protects the human trophoblast from oxidative injury by regulating key antioxidant proteins, catalase (CAT) and the superoxide dismutases (SOD1 and SOD2). In first trimester placental explants, localization of CAT was limited to cytotrophoblasts, whereas SOD1 was expressed in both the cyto- and syncytiotrophoblasts. In first trimester placental explants, hypoxia decreased the expression of both SOD1 and SOD2, and increased apoptosis. Treatment with rosiglitazone dose-dependently upregulated anti-oxidative CAT and SOD2, and rescued hypoxic injury in first trimester villous explants and JEG-3 cells, strongly suggesting the involvement of the PPARγ in regulating their expressions. Rosiglitazone facilitated transcription activity of PPARγ, and enhanced promotor binding, increased transcriptional activity at the CAT promoter, and elevated protein expression/activity. Treatment of hypoxic JEG-3 cells with rosiglitazone resulted in mitochondrial membrane potential increase and a reduction of caspase 9 and caspase 3 activity which is consistent with improved cell survival. To complement PPARγ activation data, we also utilized the antagonist (SR-202) and siRNA to suppress PPARγ expression and demonstrate the specific role of PPARγ in reducing ROS and oxidative stress. Ex vivo examination of term human placenta revealed lower expression of antioxidant proteins in pathologic compared to healthy placental tissues, which could be rescued by rosiglitazone, indicating that rosiglitazone can improve survival of the trophoblast under pathological conditions. These findings provide evidence that the PPARγ pathway directly influences cellular antioxidants production and the pathophysiology of placental oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-494
Number of pages16
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • PPAR
  • human placenta
  • hypoxia
  • oxidative stress
  • preeclampsia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine


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