Hypoxia-Independent Upregulation of Placental Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1α Gene Expression Contributes to the Pathogenesis of Preeclampsia
Accumulation of hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is commonly an acute and beneficial response to hypoxia, whereas chronically elevated HIF-1α is associated with multiple disease conditions, including preeclampsia, a serious hypertensive disease of pregnancy. However, the molecular basis underlying the persistent elevation of placental HIF-1α in preeclampsia and its role in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia are poorly understood. Here we report that Hif-1α mRNA and HIF-1α protein were elevated in the placentas of pregnant mice infused with angiotensin II type I receptor agonistic autoantibody, a pathogenic factor in preeclampsia. Knockdown of placental Hif-1α mRNA by specific siRNA significantly attenuated hallmark features of preeclampsia induced by angiotensin II type I receptor agonistic autoantibody in pregnant mice, including hypertension, proteinuria, kidney damage, impaired placental vasculature, and elevated maternal circulating soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 levels. Next, we discovered that Hif-1α mRNA levels and HIF-1α protein levels were induced in an independent preeclampsia model with infusion of the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor superfamily member 14 (LIGHT). SiRNA knockdown experiments also demonstrated that elevated HIF-1α contributed to LIGHT-induced preeclampsia features. Translational studies with human placentas showed that angiotensin II type I receptor agonistic autoantibody or LIGHT is capable of inducing HIF-1α in a hypoxia-independent manner. Moreover, increased HIF-1α was found to be responsible for angiotensin II type I receptor agonistic autoantibody or LIGHT-induced elevation of Flt-1 gene expression and production of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 in human villous explants. Overall, we demonstrated that hypoxia-independent stimulation of HIF-1α gene expression in the placenta is a common pathogenic mechanism promoting disease progression. Our findings reveal new insight to preeclampsia and highlight novel therapeutic possibilities for the disease.
- Received February 8, 2015.
- Revision received February 26, 2015.
- Accepted March 13, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.