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Successful pregnancy is supported by a healthy maternal-fetal interface (i.e., the decidual tissues) which holds the conceptus and safeguards it against stressors from the beginning of pregnancy. Any disturbance of this interface can presumably lead to the loss of pregnancy. The use of the immunosuppressive drug mycophenolic acid (MPA) should be discontinued in pregnancy given its abortive and embryotoxic effects. Direct teratogenic effects have been observed in mammalian embryos cultured in MPA, but the underlying mechanisms of abortion by MPA are less understood. Decidual stromal cells isolated from human placentas are cultured in the presence of clinically relevant doses of MPA. Data regarding the effects of MPA on the proliferation and viability of decidua cultures are first analysed and then, molecular pathways contributing to these effects are unravelled. MPA treatment of decidual stromal cells results in loss of proliferation capacity and a decrease in the viability of decidua cultures. The molecular pathways involved in the effects of MPA on decidual stromal cells are a reduction in pre-rRNA synthesis and subsequent disruption of the nucleolus. The nucleolar stress stabilizes p53, which in turn, leads to a p21-mediated cell cycle arrest in late S and G2 phases, preventing the progression of the decidua cells into the mitosis. Furthermore, MPA does not induce apoptosis but activate mechanisms of autophagy and senescence in decidual stromal cells. The irreversible growth arrest of decidua cells, whose role in the maintenance of the pregnancy microenvironment is known, may be one cause of miscarriage in MPA treated pregnant women.


Paz de la Torre, Miguel Fernández-de la Torre, Ana I Flores. Premature senescence of placental decidua cells as a possible cause of miscarriage produced by mycophenolic acid. Journal of biomedical science. 2021 Jan 04;28(1):3

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PMID: 33397374

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