Exposure to Experimental Preeclampsia in Mice Enhances the Vascular Response to Future Injury
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading killer of women in developed nations. One sex-specific risk factor is preeclampsia, a syndrome of hypertension and proteinuria that complicates 5% of pregnancies. Although preeclampsia resolves after delivery, exposed women are at increased long-term risk of premature CVD and mortality. Pre-existing CVD risk factors are associated with increased risk of developing preeclampsia but whether preeclampsia merely uncovers risk or contributes directly to future CVD remains a critical unanswered question. A mouse preeclampsia model was used to test the hypothesis that preeclampsia causes an enhanced vascular response to future vessel injury. A preeclampsia-like state was induced in pregnant CD1 mice by overexpressing soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1, a circulating antiangiogenic protein that induces hypertension and glomerular disease resembling human preeclampsia. Two months postpartum, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 levels and blood pressure normalized and cardiac size and function by echocardiography and renal histology were indistinguishable in preeclampsia-exposed compared with control mice. Mice were then challenged with unilateral carotid injury. Preeclampsia-exposed mice had significantly enhanced vascular remodeling with increased vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation (180% increase; P<0.01) and vessel fibrosis (216% increase; P<0.001) compared with control pregnancy. In the contralateral uninjured vessel, there was no difference in remodeling after exposure to preeclampsia. These data support a new model in which vessels exposed to preeclampsia retain a persistently enhanced vascular response to injury despite resolution of preeclampsia after delivery. This new paradigm may contribute to the substantially increased risk of CVD in woman exposed to preeclampsia.
- Received November 24, 2014.
- Revision received December 11, 2014.
- Accepted January 28, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.