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Centre for Trophoblast Research


Phenotypic and functional characterization of first-trimester human placental macrophages, Hofbauer cells


Jake R. Thomas, Anna Appios, Xiaohui Zhao, Roksana Dutkiewicz, Maria Donde, Colin Y.C. Lee, Praveena Naidu, Christopher Lee, Joana Cerveira, Bing Liu, Florent Ginhoux, Graham Burton, Russell S. Hamilton, Ashley Moffett, Andrew Sharkey, Naomi McGovern 


Hofbauer cells (HBCs) are a population of macrophages found in high abundance within the stroma of the first-trimester human placenta. HBCs are the only fetal immune cell population within the stroma of healthy placenta. However, the functional properties of these cells are poorly described. Aligning with their predicted origin via primitive hematopoiesis, we find that HBCs are transcriptionally similar to yolk sac macrophages. Phenotypically, HBCs can be identified as HLA-DRFOLR2+ macrophages. We identify a number of factors that HBCs secrete (including OPN and MMP-9) that could affect placental angiogenesis and remodeling. We determine that HBCs have the capacity to play a defensive role, where they are responsive to Toll-like receptor stimulation and are microbicidal. Finally, we also identify a population of placenta-associated maternal macrophages (PAMM1a) that adhere to the placental surface and express factors, such as fibronectin, that may aid in repair.

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