Human term-placental trophoblasts in primary culture were studied for an interferon (IFN) response when challenged with Sendai virus and compared to three choriocarcinoma cell lines, placental fibroblasts and placental macrophages. Normal trophoblasts were high producers and released both IFN-α and IFN-β. In contrast, one choriocarcinoma cell line was a low producer and all malignant lines produced only IFN-β. Circulating monocytes produce IFN-α but placental macrophages secreted IFN-β and some IFN-α, suggesting that IFN production may be dependent on the stage of differentiation. A role for trophoblast IFNs in protection of the foetus against virus infections is proposed.
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