Exosomes from Ureaplasma parvum-infected ectocervical epithelial cells promote feto-maternal interface inflammation but are insufficient to cause preterm delivery. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study determined if exosomes from ectocervical epithelial (ECTO) cells infected with Ureaplasma parvum (U. parvum) can carry bacterial antigens and cause inflammation at the feto-maternal interface using two organ-on-chip devices, one representing the vagina-cervix-decidua and another one mimicking the feto-maternal interface, and whether such inflammation can lead to preterm birth (PTB). Exosomes from U. parvum-infected ECTO cells were characterized using cryo-electron microscopy, nanoparticle tracking analysis, Western blot, and Exoview analysis. The antigenicity of the exosomes from U. parvum-infected ECTO cells was also tested using THP-1 cells and our newly developed vagina-cervix-decidua organ-on-a-chip (VCD-OOC) having six microchannel-interconnected cell culture chambers containing cells from the vagina, ectocervical, endocervical, transformation zone epithelia, cervical stroma, and decidua. The VCD-OOC was linked to the maternal side of our previously developed feto-maternal interface organ-on-a-chip (FMi-OOC). Cell culture media were collected after 48h to determine the cytokine levels from each cell line via ELISA. For physiological validation of our in vitro data, high-dose exosomes from U. parvum-infected ECTO cells were delivered to the vagina of pregnant CD-1 mice on E15. Mice were monitored for preterm birth (PTB, < E18.5days). Exosomes from ECTO cells infected with U. parvum (UP ECTO) showed significant downregulation of exosome markers CD9, CD63, and CD81, but contained multiple banded antigen (MBA), a U. parvum virulence factor. Monoculture experiments showed that exosomes from UP ECTO cells delivered MBA from the host cell to uninfected endocervical epithelial cells (ENDO). Moreover, exposure of THP-1 cells to exosomes from UP ECTO cells resulted in increased IL-8 and TNF and reduced IL-10. The OOC experiments showed that low and high doses of exosomes from UP ECTO cells produced a cell type-specific inflammatory response in the VCD-OOC and FMi-OOC. Specifically, exosomes from UP ECTO cells increased pro-inflammatory cytokines such as GM-CSF, IL-6, and IL-8 in cervical, decidual, chorion trophoblast, and amnion mesenchymal cells. The results from our OOC models were validated in our in vivo mice model. The inflammatory response was insufficient to promote PTB. These results showed the potential use of the VCD-OOC and FMi-OOC in simulating the pathophysiological processes in vivo.

published proceedings

  • Front Cell Dev Biol

altmetric score

  • 1.95

author list (cited authors)

  • Tantengco, O., Richardson, L. S., Radnaa, E., Kammala, A. K., Kim, S., Medina, P., Han, A., & Menon, R.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Tantengco, Ourlad Alzeus G||Richardson, Lauren S||Radnaa, Enkhtuya||Kammala, Ananth Kumar||Kim, Sungjin||Medina, Paul Mark B||Han, Arum||Menon, Ramkumar

publication date

  • January 2022