Placental HtrA3 is regulated by oxygen tension and serum levels are altered during early pregnancy in women destined to develop preeclampsia

Ying Li, Michelle Puryer, Eliane Lin, Kathryn Hale, Lois Salamonsen, Ursula Manuelpillai, Stephen Tong, Weng Chan, Euan Wallace, Guiying Nie

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33 Citations (Scopus)


The pathogenic origin of preeclampsia is defective placental development (placentation) and function. Preeclampsia is not diagnosed until later in pregnancy, and reliable early detection is highly desirable. HtrA3 is a recently cloned gene with high expression during placentation in the mouse, rhesus monkey, and human. OBJECTIVE: The present study examined the placental production and the serum profile of HtrA3 across gestation in women, the potential molecular mechanisms regulating HtrA3 production, and the association between maternal HtrA3 serum levels and preeclampsia. METHODS: Immunohistochemistry determined HtrA3 expression pattern and cellular localization in first-, second-, and third-trimester placenta. The maternal serum HtrA3 levels were analyzed by Western blotting. The regulation of placental HtrA3 production and the secretion by oxygen tension was investigated in first-trimester placental explants and trophoblast cells. RESULTS: Placental HtrA3 protein was maximally produced in the first trimester and then dramatically down-regulated, especially in the syncytiotrophoblast. HtrA3 was secreted into the maternal circulation with a serum profile reflecting placental production. Oxygen tension regulated HtrA3; low oxygen enhanced, whereas the transition from low to high oxygen decreased, HtrA3 protein production in syncytiotrophoblast. Maternal serum HtrA3 levels at approximately 13-14 wk of gestation were significantly higher in women who subsequently developed preeclampsia. It appeared that HtrA3 down-regulation was delayed in preeclamptic pregnancies. CONCLUSIONS: HtrA3 protein production is closely associated with changing in oxygen tension in the placenta. The decline in HtrA3 at the end of first trimester may reflect the placental low to high oxygen switch. Abnormally high levels of serum HtrA3 at approximately 13-14 wk of gestation is associated with preeclampsia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403 - 411
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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