Placenta growth factor (PlGF) deficient mice are fertile at a Mendelian ratio. Interestingly, low maternal plasma levels of PlGF are strongly associated with early onset of preeclampsia, a pregnancy hypertensive disorder characterised by high blood pressure, proteinuria and fetal growth restriction. PlGF is increasingly being recognised as an early diagnostic biomarker, but the physiological importance of PlGF in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia is unknown. We investigated whether the decreased levels of PlGF in pregnancy exacerbate the fetal growth restriction associated with preeclampsia in the presence of high sFlt-1 and the potential of hydrogen sulphide to ameliorate these effects. Pregnant PlGF−/− mice were injected with adenovirus encoding sFlt-1 (Ad-sFlt-1) at 1 × 109 pfu/ml at E10.5 and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), biochemical and histological analysis of maternal kidney, placenta and embryos were assessed at the end of pregnancy. Ad-sFlt-1 significantly increased MAP and induced severe glomerular endotheliosis in PlGF−/− mice compared to wild-type animals. Soluble Flt-1 also significantly elevated albumin–creatinine ratio and increased levels of urinary kidney injury molecule-1, a marker for proximal tubule injury. Furthermore, sFlt-1 over expression increased fetal resorption rate in the PlGF−/− mice and promoted abnormal placental vascularisation. To determine whether placental PlGF is critical for preventing fetal growth restriction associated with preeclampsia, we generated haploinsufficient PlGF+/− placentas and embryos in dams and exposed to high sFlt-1 environment. These mothers showed reduced fetal resorption, gestational hypertension and proteinuria when compared to pregnant PlGF−/− mice. Furthermore, treatment with hydrogen sulphide-releasing agent, GYY4137, significantly reduced resorption, hypertension and proteinuria observed in Ad-sFlt-1 treated pregnant PlGF−/− mice. Our study shows that placental PlGF is a critical protective factor against the damaging effects of high sFlt-1 associated with preeclampsia and activation of the hydrogen sulphide pathway may rescue preeclampsia phenotypes even under low PlGF environment.
Abstract from the 3rd European Conference on the Biology of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S 2015), 3–6 May 2015, Athens, Greece.