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Title: Modulation of the endocannabinoid system in viable and non-viable first trimester pregnancies by pregnancy-related hormones
Authors: Taylor, A. H.
Finney, M.
Lam, P. M.
Konje, J. C.
First Published: 29-Nov-2011
Publisher: BioMed Central
Citation: Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 2011, 9, p. 152
Abstract: BACKGROUND: In early pregnancy, increased plasma levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) are associated with miscarriage through mechanisms that might affect the developing placenta or maternal decidua. METHODS: In this study, we compare AEA levels in failed and viable pregnancies with the levels of the trophoblastic hormones (beta-human chorionic gonadotrophin (beta-hCG), progesterone (P4) and (pregnancy-associated placental protein-A (PAPP-A)) essential for early pregnancy success and relate that to the expression of the cannabinoid receptors and enzymes that modulate AEA levels. RESULTS: The median plasma AEA level in non-viable pregnancies (1.48 nM; n = 20) was higher than in viable pregnancies (1.21 nM; n = 25; P = 0.013), as were progesterone and beta-hCG levels (41.0 vs 51.5 ng/mL; P = 0.052 for P4 and 28,650 vs 6,560 mIU/L; P = 0.144 for beta-hCG, respectively, but were not statistically significant). Serum PAPP-A levels in the viable group were approximately 6.8 times lower than those in the non-viable group (1.82 vs 12.25 mg/L; P = 0.071), but again these differences were statistically insignificant. In the spontaneous miscarriage group, significant correlations between P4 and beta-hCG, P4 and PAPP-A and AEA and PAPP-A levels were observed. Simultaneously, immunohistochemical distributions of the two main cannabinoid receptors and the AEA-modifying enzymes, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine-phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD), changed within both the decidua and trophoblast. CONCLUSIONS: The association of higher AEA levels with early pregnancy failure and with beta-hCG and PAPP-A, but not with progesterone concentrations suggest that plasma AEA levels and pregnancy failure are linked via a mechanism that may involve trophoblastic beta-hCG, and PAPP-A, but not, progesterone production. Although the trophoblast, decidua and embryo contain receptors for AEA, the main AEA target in early pregnancy failure remains unknown.
DOI Link: 10.1186/1477-7827-9-152
eISSN: 1477-7827
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2011 Taylor et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine

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