Aspects of inflammation, angiogenesis and coagulation in preeclampsia
Abstract: Preeclampsia is a major challenge to obstetricians, due to its impact on maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality and the lack of preventive and treatment strategies. The overall aim of this thesis is to increase the knowledge of the pathogenesis of preeclampsia including the role of inflammation, angiogenesis and coagulation, both locally at the fetomaternal interface and in the maternal circulation. Uncompensated maternal endothelial inflammatory responses to factors from stressed trophoblasts seem to be a major contributor to the syndrome, together with an imbalance in angiogenesis and an activated coagulation system. An increasing amount of data indicates an involvement of the immune system with defect tolerance to the conceptus as an integral part of the pathogenesis, at least in early-onset preeclampsia (EOP).We showed that a single administration of human preeclampsia serum in pregnant IL-10−/− mice induced the full spectrum of preeclampsia-like symptoms including hypoxic injury in uteroplacental tissues and endotheliosis in maternal kidneys. Importantly, preeclampsia serum, as early as 12 to 14 weeks of gestation, disrupted cross talk between trophoblasts and endothelial cells in an in vitro model of endovascular activity (Tube formation test). These results indicate that preeclamptic sera can be used to better understand the pathophysiology and to predict the disorder. Preeclampsia has been associated with increased inflammation, aberrant angiogenesis and activated coagulation, but their correlation and relative contribution are unknown. We found that markers for all these mechanisms were independently associated with preeclampsia. Cytokines, chemokines, and complement factors seem all to be part of a Th1-associated inflammatory reaction in preeclampsia, more pronounced in EOP than in late-onset preeclampsia (LOP), in line with a more homogeneous pathogenesis in EOP as based on placental pathology. In women with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), with an anticipated pathologic placentation, only differences in levels for sFlt-1 and PlGF were found in comparison with mothers without IUGR. Thus, sFlt-1 and PlGF seem to be indicators of placental pathology, while other biomarkers might also reflect maternal endothelial pathology. Chemokines, in contrast to cytokines, may prove to be useful markers in preeclampsia.A deficiency in regulatory T (Treg) cells causing reduced immune regulatory capacity has been proposed in preeclampsia. Utilizing recent advances in flow cytometry phenotyping, we found no major alterations in circulating Treg numbers in preeclamptic women compared with normal pregnant and non-pregnant women. However, preeclampsia was associated with increased fractions of CTLA-4+ and CCR4+ cells within Treg subpopulations, which is in line with a migratory defect of Treg cells, and potentially associated with a reduced number of suppressive Treg cells at the fetomaternal interface. As we found that corticosteroid treatment affected the results, it should be accounted for in studies of EOP. Chemokines are supposed to be part of the immune adaptation in pregnancy. We found a decreased expression of CCL18 (Th2/Tregassociated), in trophoblasts from preeclamptic compared to normal pregnant women, indicating a local regulatory defect in preeclampsia, in line with our finding of a possible migratory defect of circulating Treg cells. Due to increased expression of CCL20 (Th17) and CCL22 (Th2) in first trimester placenta and increased circulating levels of CXCL10 (Th1) and CCL20 (Th17) in third trimester preeclamptic women, we suggest that CCL20 and CCL22 may be important for implantation and early placentation while in third trimester of a preeclamptic pregnancy CXCL10 and CCL20 mainly mirror maternal increased endothelial inflammation and aberrant angiogenesis. In summary, we found that preeclampsia is associated with increased inflammation, aberrant angiogenesis and activated coagulation, caused by placental factors in maternal peripheral circulation, more pronounced in the early-onset form of preeclampsia. It also appears that there is a defective modulation of the immune system in preeclamptic pregnancies. The results provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of preeclampsia and have given suggestions to predictive markers for preeclampsia in the future.
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