The anti-inflammatory effect of calcium for preventing endothelial cell activation in preeclampsia

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Abstract

Preeclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy characterized by endothelial activation. It is believed to be a response to a ‘toxin(s)’ from the placenta including trophoblastic debris and inflammatory cytokines. Calcium is known to reduce the risk of preeclampsia but the mechanism of its protective effect remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the potential mechanism(s) of calcium supplementation for preventing endothelial activation induced by trophoblastic debris. Trophoblastic debris was harvested from preeclamptic placentae and also from first-trimester placentae, which had been treated with preeclamptic sera. Endothelial cells were then cultured with trophoblastic debris in the presence of calcium. Endothelial activation was measured by quantifying endothelial cell-surface intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and by U937 monocyte adhesion to endothelial cells. The expression of ICAM-1 and U937 adhesion to endothelial cells were significantly reduced following exposure of endothelial cells to trophoblastic debris from preeclamptic placenta or from first-trimester placentae treated with preeclamptic sera in the presence of calcium compared with treatment without calcium. The expression of ICAM-1 was also significantly reduced following exposure of endothelial cells to trophoblastic debris with the nitric oxide donor or following treatment of endothelial cells with interleukin (IL)-1β in the presence of calcium. Our study demonstrated that calcium supplementation prevented endothelial cell activation induced by trophoblastic debris from preeclamptic placentae. The nitric oxide synthase (NOS) pathway and anti-inflammatory effects are involved in the action of calcium on endothelial cell activation. These findings may suggest, at least in part, the protective mechanism of calcium supplementation on preeclampsia.

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