Differential expression and regional distribution of aquaporins in amnion of normal and gestational diabetic pregnancies
OBJECTIVE The intramembranous pathway of amniotic fluid absorption has recently been recognized as a critical regulatory path for amniotic fluid resorption, which contributes importantly to amniotic fluid volume homeostasis. Yet, the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms for water absorption across the amniotic membranes remain unknown. We hypothesize that amniotic fluid water is absorbed across aquaporin water channels in the chorioamniotic membranes. Recently the water channel aquaporin-8 complementary DNAs for mice, rats, and humans have been cloned; and aquaporin-8 has been found to be expressed in the placenta and in other organs. The objective of the present study was to determine whether aquaporin-8 is expressed in human chorioamniotic membranes. STUDY DESIGN Freshly frozen human amnion, chorion, placenta, and umbilical cord of a normal term pregnancy were used in this study. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction was used to determine the aquaporin-8 gene expression. In situ hybridization with biotin-labeled aquaporin-8 riboprobe was undertaken to localize the cellular expression of aquaporin-8 gene in these human fetal membranes. RESULTS Using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, we have demonstrated that aquaporin-8 is expressed in human amnion, chorion, and placenta. Further studies of in situ hybridization of aquaporin-8 identified aquaporin-8 gene expression in epithelial cells of chorion and amnion and of the syncytiotrophoblasts and outer layer trophoblasts of placenta. CONCLUSION This is the first study that demonstrates the expression of aquaporin-8 water channel in human chorioamniotic membranes. These results suggest that aquaporin-8 may be a water channel that mediates amniotic fluid resorption by way of the intramembranous pathway.