Medical University of Vienna
Dept. of Obstetrics and Fetal-Maternal Medicine
Reproductive Biology Unit
Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 5Q
Research interests: Placental Development, Reproductive Biology, Placental Pathologies, Reproductive Immunology
My research interests lie in studying the mechanisms which control differentiation and invasion of the placenta-derived extravillous trophoblasts (EVT). During early pregnancy, the placenta adheres to the maternal decidua and gives rise to the so-called EVT. This trophoblast subtype invades the deciuda and spiral arteries to enable an adequate nutrient support to the embryo and its immunological acceptance in an allogeneic environment. Although partly similar to cancer cell formation, EVT differentiation underlies strict control mechanisms of mostly unknown entities.
My research group is currently focusing on protease activity during EVT invasion by studying the so far unknown role of ADAM-12 in trophoblasts. In this context we are further interested to study ADAM-12 expression in pathological pregnancies being characterized by hyper-proliferative and -invasive trophoblasts. Another recent research project deals with the impact of the novel IL-1 family member IL-33 on EVT differentiation. To conduct my research, I take advantage of various primary model systems allowing a detailed study of EVT differentiation as these in vitro systems display similar gene expression patterns to those noticed in vivo. My future plans are to unravel the role of intrinsic regulatory mechanisms in various stages of EVT differentiation, including proliferation/cell cycle arrest and acquisition of an invasive phenotype. In addition, I am interested to further characterize novel subtype-specific EVT genes by performing flow cytometry-based cell sorting of various EVT populations.
Standard techniques such as Western blot, qPCR, IHC and IF
- Functional assays testing cellular motility (Mitgration/Invasion assays, Wound healing assays, outgrowing placental explants) and proliferation (BrdU labelling, CASY® cell counting, KI67 stainings)
- Flow cytometry
- Culture of primary cells (first trimester trophoblasts) and placental explants
- Gene chip analysis (Affymetrix®)
- Manipulation of gene expression by plasmid-based overexpression and siRNA-mediated knock-down
- Measurement of transcriptional activity by specific reporter plasmids
Jürgen Pollheimer heads a research group within the Reproductive Biology Unit at the Deptartment of Obstetrics and Foetal-Maternal Medicine. His research is currently supported by two grants of the Austrian National Bank (ONB) and his group consists of two PhD students. The laboratory of Jürgen Pollheimer is part of a larger research unit, termed Reproductive Biology Unit, coordinated and supervised by Prof. Martin Knöfler, PI of the Department of Obstetrics and Foetal-Maternal Medicine and administrative head of the research laboratories of the clinics of women´s health care, Medical University of Vienna. Currently, three research groups form the particular unit to improve scientific communication and research on overlapping issues. These include aspects of mechanisms of placental development, EVT differentiation and decidualization (M. Knöfler), signalling and cytokine function in trophoblasts (J. Pollheimer) and signalling mechanisms in normal endometrium and endometriosis (I. Yotova, M. Mairhofer). Numerous techniques, such as isolation of diverse reproductive cell types, multiple tools for their characterization as well as diverse functional assays are available.
Pollheimer J, Haslinger P, Fock V, Prast J, Saleh L, Biadasiewicz K, Jetne-Edelmann R, Haraldsen G, Haider S, Hirtenlehner-Ferber K, Knöfler M. Endostatin suppresses IGF-II-mediated signaling and invasion of human extravillous trophoblasts. Endocrinology. 2011 Nov;152(11):4431-42. Epub 2011 Sep 20.
Pollheimer J, Loregger T, Saleh L, Bauer S, Bilban M, Czerwenka K, Husslein P and Knofler M. Activation of the canonical wingless (Wnt)/T-cell factor (TCF) signalling pathway promotes invasive differentiation of human trophoblast. Am J Pathol. 2006 Apr;168(4):1134-47.
Pollheimer J, Husslein P and Knöfler M. Invasive trophoblasts generate regulatory Collagen XVIII cleavage products. Placenta. 2005 Apr;26 Suppl A:S42-5.
Pollheimer J, Zellner M, Eliasen MM, Roth E, Oehler R.Increased susceptibility of glutamine-depleted monocytes to fever-range hyperthermia: the role of 70-kDa heat shock protein. Ann Surg. 2005 Feb;241(2):349-55.
Pollheimer J, Bauer S, Huber A, Husslein P, Aplin JD, Knofler M. Expression pattern of collagen XVIII and its cleavage product, the angiogenesis inhibitor endostatin, at the fetal-maternal interface. Placenta. 2004 Nov;25(10):770-9.