Human amniotic epithelial cells (HAEC) are formed from epiblasts on the 8th day after fertilization. Because they lack major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigen, human amniotic tissue transplantation has been used for allotranplantation to treat patients with lysosomal diseases. We have provided evidence that HAEC have multiple functions such as synthesis and release of acetylcholine (ACh) and catecholamine (CA) as well as expressing mRNA coding for dopamine receptors and dopamine (DA) transporter (DAT). On the other hand, we showed that monkey amniotic epithelial cells (MAEC) synthesize and release CA and posses DA receptors and DAT. Detection of muscarinic actylcholine receptors indicates the presence of an autocrine mechanism in HAEC. Recently, we found that HAEC have neurotrophic function in conditioned medium from HAEC, indicating the presence of a novel neurotrohpic factor that is synthesized and released from HAEC. The amniotic membrane may have a significant role in supplying neurotrophic factors as well as neurotransmitters to the amniotic fluid, suggesting an important function in the early stages of neural development of the embryo. This review will focus on the neuropharmacological aspects of HAEC and MAEC in relation to the physiology of amniotic membrane.
The Japanese Pharmacological Society 2001