Angiogenic imbalance and diminished matrix metalloproteinase-2 and -9 underlie regional decreases in uteroplacental vascularization and feto-placental growth in hypertensive pregnancy

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Preeclampsia is a form of hypertension-in-pregnancy (HTN-Preg) with unclear mechanism. Generalized reduction of uterine perfusion pressure (RUPP) could be an initiating event leading to uteroplacental ischemia, angiogenic imbalance, and HTN-Preg. Additional regional differences in uteroplacental blood flow could further affect the pregnancy outcome and increase the risk of preeclampsia in twin or multiple pregnancy, but the mechanisms involved are unclear. To test the hypothesis that regional differences in angiogenic balance and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) underlie regional uteroplacental vascularization and feto-placental development, we compared fetal and placental growth, and placental and myoendometrial vascularization in the proximal, middle and distal regions of the uterus (in relation to the iliac bifurcation) in normal pregnant (Preg) and RUPP rats. Maternal blood pressure and plasma anti-angiogenic soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1)/placenta growth factor (PIGF) ratio were higher, and average placentae number, placenta weight, litter size, and pup weight were less in RUPP than Preg rats. The placenta and pup number and weight were reduced, while the number and diameter of placental and adjacent myoendometrial arteries, and MMP-2 and MMP-9 levels/activity were increased, and sFlt-1/PlGF ratio was decreased in distal vs proximal uterus of Preg rats. In RUPP rats, the placenta and pup number and weight, the number and diameter of placental and myoendometrial arteries, and MMP-2 and -9 levels/activity were decreased, and sFlt-1/PlGF ratio was increased in distal vs proximal uterus. Treatment with sFlt-1 or RUPP placenta extract decreased MMP-2 and MMP-9 in distal segments of Preg uterus, and treatment with PIGF or Preg placenta extract restored MMP levels in distal segments of RUPP uterus. Thus, in addition to the general reduction in placental and fetal growth during uteroplacental ischemia, localized angiogenic imbalance and diminished MMP-2 and MMP-9 could cause further decrease in placental and myoendometrial vascularization and placental and fetal growth in distal vs proximal uterus of HTN-Preg rats. Regional differences in uteroplacental perfusion, angiogenic balance and MMPs could be a factor in the incidence of preeclampsia in multiple pregnancy.

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