The effects of oil sands process-affected water naphthenic acid fraction components on GDF15 secretion in extravillous trophoblast cells Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Exposure to compounds present in petroleum and wastewaters from oil and gas extraction sites in the Alberta Oil Sands Region can impair reproductive health. It has been established that acid extractable organics found in oil sands process-affected water (OSPW) such as naphthenic acids (NA-fraction components; NAFC) can adversely affect reproductive outcomes. We have shown that NAFC exposure results in a significant upregulation of GDF15 in placental trophoblasts, a cellular stress marker known to be involved in human embryonic development and necessary for the maintenance of pregnancy. However, little is known regarding the mechanism(s) underlying NAFC-induced increases in GDF15 production during early placentation. The goal of this study was to examine the effects of NAFC exposure on the regulation of critical transcription factors of GDF15 in extravillous trophoblast cells. Of these transcription factors, inflammatory mediators including prostaglandins have been reported to inhibit proliferation and migration of trophoblast cells in vitro. Hence, the secondary goal of this study was to determine whether inflammation mediated through prostaglandin production is critical to GDF15 secretion. HTR-8/SVneo cells were exposed to an NAFC for 6 and 24 h to assess the expression of key transcriptional regulators, GDF15 secretion, and prostaglandin (PGE2) output. Treatment with NAFC (125 mg/L only) significantly increased GDF15 expression and secretion in association with upregulation of the transcription factors KLF4, EGR1, ATF3 and TP53. Similarly, PTGS2 (i.e. COX2) expression and PGE2 output were significantly increased at the same concentration. However, co-treatment with a COX2 selective antagonist (SC236) only partially blocked the NAFC-induced increase in PGE2 output and did not block GDF15 expression or secretion. These findings suggest that while NAFC may affect GDF15 production, it is not exclusively a result of prostaglandin-mediated inflammation. This study provides new insights into the mechanisms by which NAFC may adversely affect placental trophoblast cell function in mammals.


  • Jamshed, Laiba
  • Perono, Genevieve A
  • Yacoub, Lina R
  • Gutgesell, Robert M
  • Frank, Richard A
  • Hewitt, L Mark
  • Thomas, Philippe J
  • Holloway, Alison

publication date

  • April 2022