Background Pre-eclampsia (PE) affects 2–7% of pregnant women and is thought to be associated with structural/functional alterations in the placental and maternal vasculature. The main component of caveolae, caveolin-1 (Cav-1) has been shown to be associated with important modulators of cardiovascular homeostasis, such as endothelial nitric oxide synthase. The possible regulation of vascular reactivity and blood pressure by the caveolae are of interest in relation to PE.
Hypothesis Cav-1 mRNA expression will be reduced in PE, compared to normotensive control (NC) placentae.
Objectives To assess mRNA expression and abundance of Cav-1 in NC (n=9) and PE (n=9) placentae from women.
Methods PE was defined as blood pressure >140/90 mm Hg with proteinuria >300 mg/l after 20 weeks' gestation. Following ethical approval and informed written consent, placental biopsies were taken midway between the cord and periphery, avoiding infarcts. Cav-1 mRNA expression was measured by absolute quantification (copy number) by qRT-PCR and normalised GAPDH.
Results Cav-1 mRNA expression was significantly greater in the NC compared to the PE placentae (mean±SD: 4.42±0.77 vs 1.53±0.27 respectively; p=0.0028).
Conclusion We propose that if down regulation of Cav-1 in PE is replicated at the protein level the functional impact may be to enhance nitric oxide production as a response to the altered vascular reactivity, endothelial dysfunction and hypertension. Conversely, reduction of Cav-1 may also negatively impact on placental function contributing to PE through nitrative stress.
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Funding Dr Hadwen Trust (261096) and Tommy's Charity (1060508).