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We have investigated factors affecting iron distribution in the first-trimester gestational sac, by the measurement of transferrin, non-transferrin-bound iron (NTBI) and pro-hepcidin (Hep) in maternal serum, coelomic fluid (CF) and amniotic fluid (AF) and by immunostaining for Hep in villous and secondary yolk sac biopsies. These samples were obtained from 15 first-trimester pregnancies at 8-11 weeks gestation. Transferrin concentrations were significantly lower in fetal (0.56 mg/ml) than maternal serum (1.71 mg/ml), with very low concentrations in CF and AF (0.09 mg/ml). In contrast, transferrin saturations were significantly higher in fetal (77%) than maternal serum (33%). NTBI was present in fetal serum, CF and AF, presumably as a consequence of low transferrin concentrations in these compartments. Pro-Hep was present at lower levels in fetal (140.0 ± 11.1) than maternal serum (206.2 ± 9.2) and at low concentrations in CF (19.4 ± 3.1) and AF (21.8 ± 5.2). Immunostaining with Hep antibody was found in the syncytiotrophoblast of first-trimester placenta as well as in mesothelial and endodermal layers of the secondary yolk sac at 10 weeks. The presence of Hep in syncytiotrophoblast cells of first-trimester placenta as well as in mesothelial and endodermal layers of the secondary yolk sac suggest a key regulatory role for this protein in iron transfer to the first-trimester fetus. The low transferrin concentrations and the presence of NTBI in CF and AF suggest that transferrin-independent iron transfer is important in early gestation.

Citation

Patricia Evans, Tereza Cindrova-Davies, Shanthi Muttukrishna, Graham J Burton, John Porter, Eric Jauniaux. Hepcidin and iron species distribution inside the first-trimester human gestational sac. Molecular human reproduction. 2011 Apr;17(4):227-32

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PMID: 21177636

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