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Placental Trophoblast-Inspired Lipid Bilayers for Cell-Free Investigation of Molecular Interactions

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journal contribution
posted on 06.07.2020, 14:39 by Christina M. Bailey-Hytholt, Tun-Li Shen, Bonnee Nie, Anubhav Tripathi, Anita Shukla
The placenta plays a key role in regulating the maternal–fetal transport but it is a difficult organ to study due to a lack of existing in vitro models. Lipid bilayers inspired by the placenta can provide a facile new in vitro tool with promise for screening molecular transport across this important organ. Here we developed lipid bilayers that mimic the composition of human placental trophoblast cells at different times during the course of pregnancy. Mass spectrometry identified five major lipid classes (phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylserine, and sphingomyelin) present at varying concentrations in trophoblasts representative of the first and third trimesters and full-term placenta. We successfully developed supported and suspended lipid bilayers mimicking these trophoblast lipid compositions and then demonstrated the utility of these synthetic placenta models for investigating molecular interactions. Specifically, we investigated the interactions with di­(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a common plasticizer and environmental toxicant, and amphotericin B, a common yet toxic, antifungal therapeutic. Overall, we observed that DEHP adsorbs and potentially embeds itself within all placental lipid bilayers, with varying levels of interaction. For both amphotericin B and a liposomal formulation of amphotericin B, AmBisome, we noted lower levels of permeation in transport studies with bilayers and trophoblast cells compared with DEHP, likely driven by differences in size. AmBisome interacted less with both the supported and suspended placental lipid bilayers in comparison to amphotericin B, suggesting that drug delivery carriers can vary the impact of a pharmaceutical agent on these lipid structures. We found that the apparent permeability observed in suspended bilayers was approximately an order of magnitude less than those observed for trophoblast monolayers, which is typical of lipid bilayers. Ultimately, these placenta mimetic lipid bilayers can serve as a platform for the rapid initial screening of molecular interactions with the maternal–fetal interface to better inform future testing.