Abstract 277: Elevated C-Reactive Protein Contributes to Preeclampsia via Kinin Signaling Pathways

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Preeclampsia (PE) is a serious pregnancy disease characterized by hypertension and proteinuria. Despite intensive research efforts, the underlying cause of PE remains a mystery. PE is, however, associated with abnormalities of the immune system. Here we report that the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an important acute phase reactant, were significantly elevated in the plasma of human with PE at the third trimester. Next, we found that CRP protein levels in the placentas of PE patients were also significantly increased compared to controls. In an effort to determine the exact role of elevated CRP in PE, we infused CRP into pregnant mice. We found that injection of CRP into pregnant mice induced hypertension (170 mmHg mean systolic vs. 125 mmHg mean systolic control; p<0.05) and proteinuria (25 mg/ug vs 12 mg/ug vehicle; p<0.05), indicating the direct role of CRP in PE. CRP is known to bind with phosphocholine on damaged cell membranes. Recent studies identified that neurokinin B (NKB), a placental enriched neuropeptide and known pathogenic molecule for PE, is phosphocholinated. This posttranslational modification increases its stability and enhances NKB-mediated receptor activation. These findings raise an intriguing hypothesis that CRP may bind with NKB coupled to NK3R activation and contribute to PE. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a pulldown assay, and we found that CRP bound with NKB. Next, using a cellular invasion assay, we revealed that CRP decreased invasion of human trophoblast cells (0.7 to 0.07 invasion index, p<0.05), while treatment with an NK3R selective antagonist, SB222200, ameliorated this shallow invasion. Finally, we provided in vivo evidence that inhibition of NK3R by SB222200 or knockdown of NK3R by specific siRNA in a potent nanoparticle delivery system significantly reduced CRP-induced hypertension and proteinuria in pregnant mice (170 mmHg mean systolic CRP-injected vs. 130 mmHg mean systolic siRNA NK3R; p<0.05 and proteinuria 25 mg/ug vs. 15 mg/ug; p<0.05). Overall, our findings demonstrate that elevated CRP contributes to PE and NKB/NK3R is a novel mechanism underlying CRP-mediated shallow invasion and disease development. These studies suggest novel pathogenic biomarkers and innovative therapeutic targets for PE.

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