Placental growth factor deficiency is associated with impaired cerebral vascular development in mice

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

STUDY HYPOTHESIS

Placental growth factor (PGF) is expressed in the developing mouse brain and contributes to vascularization and vessel patterning.

STUDY FINDING

PGF is dynamically expressed in fetal mouse brain, particularly forebrain, and is essential for normal cerebrovascular development.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

PGF rises in maternal plasma over normal human and mouse pregnancy but is low in many women with the acute onset hypertensive syndrome, pre-eclampsia (PE). Little is known about the expression of PGF in the fetus during PE. Pgf  −/− mice appear normal but recently cerebral vascular defects were documented in adult Pgf  −/− mice.

STUDY DESIGN, SAMPLES/MATERIALS, METHODS

Here, temporal–spatial expression of PGF is mapped in normal fetal mouse brains and cerebral vasculature development is compared between normal and congenic Pgf  −/− fetuses to assess the actions of PGF during cerebrovascular development. Pgf/PGF, Vegfa/VEGF, Vegf receptor (Vegfr)1 and Vegfr2 expression were examined in the brains of embryonic day (E)12.5, 14.5, 16.5 and 18.5 C57BL/6 (B6) mice using quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry. The cerebral vasculature was compared between Pgf  −/− and B6 embryonic and adult brains using whole mount techniques. Vulnerability to cerebral ischemia was investigated using a left common carotid ligation assay.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

Pgf/PGF and Vegfr1 are highly expressed in E12.5-14.5 forebrain relative to VEGF and Vegfr2. Vegfa/VEGF is relatively more abundant in hindbrain (HB). PGF and VEGF expression were similar in midbrain. Delayed HB vascularization was seen at E10.5 and 11.5 in Pgf  −/− brains. At E14.5, Pgf  −/− circle of Willis showed unilateral hypoplasia and fewer collateral vessels, defects that persisted post-natally. Functionally, adult Pgf  −/− mice experienced cerebral ischemia after left common carotid arterial occlusion while B6 mice did not.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

Since Pgf  −/− mice were used, consequences of complete absence of maternal and fetal PGF were defined. Therefore, the effects of maternal versus fetal PGF deficiency on cerebrovascular development cannot be separated. However, as PGF was strongly expressed in the developing brain at all timepoints, we suggest that local PGF has a more important role than distant maternal or placental sources. Full PGF loss is not expected in PE pregnancies, predicting that the effects of PGF deficiency identified in this model will be more severe than any effects in PE-offspring.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

These studies provoke the question of whether PGF expression is decreased and cerebral vascular maldevelopment occurs in fetuses who experience a preeclamptic gestation. These individuals have already been reported to have elevated risk for stroke and cognitive impairments.

LARGE SCALE data

N/A.

STUDY FUNDING AND COMPETING INTEREST(S)

This work was supported by awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canada Research Chairs Program and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation to B.A.C. and by training awards from the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (CNPq), Brazil to R.L.L.; Queen's University to V.R.K. and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to M.T.R. The work of P.C. is supported by the Belgian Science Policy BELSPO—IUAP7/03, Structural funding by the Flemish Government—Methusalem funding, and the Flemish Science Fund—FWO grants. There were no competing interests.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles