Decreased Level of Cord Blood Circulating Endothelial Colony–Forming Cells in Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related disorder associated with increased cardiovascular risk for the offspring. Endothelial colony–forming cells (ECFCs) are a subset of circulating endothelial progenitor cells that participate in the formation of vasculature during development. However, the effect of preeclampsia on fetal levels of ECFCs is largely unknown. In this study, we sought to determine whether cord blood ECFC abundance and function are altered in preeclampsia. We conducted a prospective cohort study that included women with normal (n=35) and preeclamptic (n=15) pregnancies. We measured ECFC levels in the umbilical cord blood of neonates and characterized ECFC phenotype, cloning-forming ability, proliferation, and migration toward vascular endothelial growth factor-A and fibroblast growth factor-2, in vitro formation of capillary-like structures, and in vivo vasculogenic ability in immunodeficient mice. We found that the level of cord blood ECFCs was statistically lower in preeclampsia than in control pregnancies (P=0.04), a reduction that was independent of other obstetric factors. In addition, cord blood ECFCs from preeclamptic pregnancies required more time to emerge in culture than control ECFCs. However, once derived in culture, ECFC function was deemed normal and highly similar between preeclampsia and control, including the ability to form vascular networks in vivo. This study demonstrates that preeclampsia affects ECFC abundance in neonates. A reduced level of ECFCs during preeclamptic pregnancies may contribute to an increased risk of developing future cardiovascular events.
- Received December 20, 2013.
- Revision received January 13, 2014.
- Accepted February 26, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.