Preeclampsia is a multisystem disorder characterized by hypertension and proteinuria. There is accumulating evidence that this is a disease of the endothelium, with an as-yet unidentified circulating factor, or factors, causing the observed alteration in vascular function. We previously reported that the function of myometrial vessels is altered on exposure to plasma from women with preeclampsia. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an angiogenic growth factor that acts via two high-affinity receptors (KDR and Flt-1), and its production is increased in preeclampsia. Here we report that VEGF and its Flt-1 receptor may play a pivotal role in the altered vascular function of preeclampsia. Myometrial resistance vessels were obtained at the time of cesarean section. Using the Mulvany wire myograph, the endothelium-dependent behavior of these vessels was studied. Incubation of vessels from pregnant women with VEGF resulted in a reduction of endothelium-dependent relaxation that mimicked the reduction induced by plasma from women with preeclampsia. The altered function that occurred upon exposure of vessels to VEGF or plasma from women with preeclampsia did not occur when plasma was incubated with antibodies to VEGF before vessel incubation. The presence of an anti-KDR receptor antibody had no effect on VEGF response. However, in the presence of an anti-Flt-1 receptor antibody, VEGF or plasma from women with preeclampsia no longer attenuated the endothelium-dependent relaxation (p <0.05). The changes observed with VEGF and plasma from women with preeclampsia and their subsequent blockade with anti-VEGF antibody and anti-Flt-1 receptor antibody strongly suggest that VEGF acting through the Flt-1 receptor is pivotal in the pathogenesis of this disease.
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 1999|