Causative Effects of Genetically Determined High Maternal/Fetal Endothelin-1 on Preeclampsia-Like Conditions in Mice

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Abstract

Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is implicated in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia. An association between an EDN1 gene polymorphism with high ET-1 and preeclampsia was reported in humans, but their cause and effect relationships have not been defined. We examined the pregnancy effects in mice with a modified Edn1 allele that increases mRNA stability and thus ET-1 production. Heterozygous Edn1H/+ females showed no obvious abnormalities before pregnancy, but when mated with wild-type (WT) males developed a full spectrum of preeclampsia-like phenotypes, including increased systolic blood pressure, proteinuria, glomerular endotheliosis, and intrauterine fetal growth restriction. At 7.5 days post-coitus, the embryos from Edn1H/+ dams, regardless of their Edn1 genotype, lagged 12 hours in development compared with embryos from WT dams, had disoriented ectoplacental cones, and retained high E-cadherin expression. In contrast, WT females mated with Edn1H/+ males, which also carried half of the fetuses with Edn1H/+ genotype, showed a mild systolic blood pressure increase only. These WT dams had 2× higher plasma soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 than WT dams mated with WT males. In human first trimester trophoblast cells, pharmacological doses of ET-1 increased the cellular sFlt1 transcripts and protein secretion via both type A and B ET-1 receptors. Our data demonstrate that high maternal ET-1 production causes preeclampsia-like phenotypes during pregnancy, affecting both initial stage of trophoblast differentiation/invasion and maternal peripheral vasculature during late gestation. High fetal ET-1 production, however, could cause increased soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 in the maternal circulation and contribute to blood pressure elevation.

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