Decreased homodimerization and increased TIMP-1 complexation of uteroplacental and uterine arterial matrix metalloproteinase-9 during hypertension-in-pregnancy

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Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy manifested as hypertension-in-pregnancy (HTN-Preg) and often intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Placental ischemia could be an initiating event, but the molecular mechanisms are unclear. To test the hypothesis that dimerization of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) plays a role in HTN-Preg and IUGR, the levels/activity of MMP-9, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP-1), and their dimerization forms were measured in the placenta, uterus, and uterine artery of normal pregnant (Preg) rats and a rat model of reduced uteroplacental perfusion pressure (RUPP). Consistent with our previous report, blood pressure (BP) was higher, pup weight was lower, and gelatin zymography showed different gelatinolytic activity for pro-MMP-9, MMP-9, pro-MMP-2 and MMP-2 in RUPP vs Preg rats. Careful examination of the zymograms showed additional bands at 200 and 135 kDa. Western blots with MMP-9 antibody suggested that the 200 kDa band was a MMP-9 homodimer. Western blots with TIMP-1 antibody as well as reverse zymography suggested that the 135 kDa band was a MMP-9/TIMP-1 complex. The protein levels and gelatinase activity of MMP-9 homodimer were decreased while MMP-9/TIMP-1 complex was increased in placenta, uterus and uterine artery of RUPP vs Preg rats. The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor blocker erlotinib and protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor bisindolylmaleimide decreased MMP-9 homodimer and increased MMP-9/TIMP-1 complex in placenta, uterus and uterine artery of Preg rats. EGF and the PKC activator phorbol-12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu) reversed the decreases in MMP-9 homodimer and the increases in MMP-9/TIMP-1 complex in tissues of RUPP rats. Thus, the increased BP and decreased pup weight in placental ischemia model of HTN-Preg are associated with a decrease in MMP-9 homodimer and an increase in MMP-9/TIMP-1 complex in placenta, uterus, and uterine artery, which together would cause a net decrease in MMP-9 activity and reduce uteroplacental and vascular remodeling in the setting of HTN-Preg and IUGR. Enhancing EGFR/PKC signaling may reverse the MMP-9 unfavorable dimerization patterns and thereby promote uteroplacental and vascular remodeling in preeclampsia.

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