Utero-placental haemodynamics in the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia

E S Hutchinson, P Brownbill, N W Jones, V M Abrahams, P N Baker, C P Sibley, I P Crocker
Placenta 2009, 30 (7): 634-41
Pre-eclampsia is associated with insufficient adaptations of spiral arteries which theoretically alter haemodynamics within the intervillous space. Such changes could damage the syncytiotrophoblast and release factors which instigate maternal endothelial dysfunction. We tested this hypothesis using an in vitro dual perfusion model of the human placenta, representing putative changes in flow arising from these spiral artery maladaptations. Whilst fetal-side flow rates remained constant (6 ml/min) perfusion rates on the maternal side were increased from 14 ml/min to 45 ml/min. As well as increasing placental derived intervillous hydrostatic pressures, and changes in flow dynamics observed by colour Doppler, these elevated flow rates resulted in morphologic damage, vacuolation and shedding of the syncytiotrophoblast, focal features previously defined in pre-eclampsia. The collected maternal perfusates recovered under high flow conditions also contained significantly elevated levels of biochemical markers of syncytial damage, including lactate dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase and human chorionic gonadotrophin. There were also significant elevations in chemokines GROalpha and RANTES, compared with the low flow perfusions. The soluble components of the maternal high flow rate perfusions decreased the number and proliferation of HUVECs after 24h exposure. These results could not be attributed to GROalpha or RANTES alone or in combination. This study provides evidence that alterations in intervillous flow have the potential to influence both the integrity of the syncytiotrophoblast and the liberation of potentially pathogenic soluble factors. This therefore offers a putative link between utero-placental maladaptations in pregnancy and the vascular endothelial complications of pre-eclampsia.

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