Expression of eight glucocorticoid receptor isoforms in the human preterm placenta vary with fetal sex and birthweight

Z. Saif, N. A. Hodyl, M. J. Stark, P. J. Fuller, T. Cole, N. Lu, V. L. Clifton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Introduction Administration of betamethasone to women at risk of preterm delivery is known to be associated with reduced fetal growth via alterations in placental function and possibly direct effects on the fetus. The placental glucocorticoid receptor (GR) is central to this response and recent evidence suggests there are numerous isoforms for GR in term placentae. In this study we have questioned whether GR isoform expression varies in preterm placentae in relation to betamethasone exposure, fetal sex and birthweight. Methods Preterm (24-36 completed weeks of gestation, n = 55) and term placentae (>37 completed weeks of gestation, n = 56) were collected at delivery. Placental GR expression was examined using Western Blot and analysed in relation to gestational age at delivery, fetal sex, birthweight and betamethasone exposure. Data was analysed using non-parametric tests. Results Eight known isoforms of the GR were detected in the preterm placenta and include GRα (94 kDa), GRβ (91 kDa), GRα C (81 kDa) GR P (74 kDa) GR A (65 kDa), GRα D1-3 (50-55 kDa). Expression varied between preterm and term placentae with a greater expression of GRα C in preterm placentae relative to term placentae. The only sex differences in preterm placentae was that GRα D2 expression was higher in males than females. There were no alterations in preterm placental GR expression in association with betamethasone exposure. Discussion GRα C is the isoform involved in glucocorticoid induced apoptosis and suggests that its predominance in preterm placentae may contribute to the pathophysiology of preterm birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-730
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Fetal growth
  • Glucocorticoid receptor
  • Placenta
  • Pregnancy
  • Preterm
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Expression of eight glucocorticoid receptor isoforms in the human preterm placenta vary with fetal sex and birthweight'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this