The effect of zinc on human trophoblast proliferation and oxidative stress

Tanja Jankovic-Karasoulos, Dale McAninch, Clare Dixon, Shalem Y.L. Leemaqz, Maxime François, Wayne R. Leifert, Dylan McCullough, Carmela Ricciardelli, Claire T. Roberts, Tina Bianco-Miotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adequate Zinc (Zn) intake is required to prevent multiple teratogenic effects however deviations from adequate Zn intake, including high maternal Zn status, have been linked to increased incidence of pregnancy complications, including those associated with inadequate placentation. Using placental trophoblast HTR8/SVneo cells and first trimester human placental explants (n = 12), we assessed the effects of varying Zn concentrations on trophoblast proliferation, viability, apoptosis and oxidative stress. Compared to physiologically normal Zn levels (20 µM), HTR-8/SVneo cell proliferation index was significantly lower in the presence of physiologically elevated (40 µM; P = .020) and supra-physiological (80 µM; P = .007) Zn. The latter was also associated with reduced proliferation (P = .004) and viability (P < .0001) in cultured placental explants, but not apoptosis. Reactive oxygen species production in HTR8/SVneo cultures was significantly higher in the presence of 80 µM Zn compared to all physiologically relevant levels. Oxidative stress, induced by an oxidizing agent menadione, was further exacerbated by high (80 µM) Zn. Zn did not affect lipid peroxidation in either HTR8/SVneo cells or placental explants or antioxidant defense mechanisms that included glutathione reductase and superoxide dismutase. Further study should focus on elucidating mechanisms behind impaired trophoblast proliferation and increased oxidative stress as a result of elevated Zn levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108574
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • oxidative stress
  • placenta
  • proliferation
  • trophoblasts
  • Zinc


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