Introduction Maternal endothelial dysfunction underlying preeclampsia arises from excessive placental release of anti-angiogenic factors, such as soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt1), soluble endoglin (sEng) and activin A. Resveratrol, an activator of the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) transcription factor, mediates the gene expression of antioxidant and vasoprotective factors that may counter the endothelial damage imposed by these anti-angiogenic factors. The objective of this study was to assess whether resveratrol could reduce placental oxidative stress and production of anti-angiogenic factors in vitro and/or improve in vitro markers of endothelial dysfunction via Nrf2 activation. Method We used in vitro term placental explants to assess the effects of resveratrol on placental oxidative stress and production of sFlt1, sEng and activin A. Using human umbilical vein endothelial cells we investigated the effects of resveratrol on markers of in vitro endothelial dysfunction, including the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM1), vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM1), E-selectin and endothelin-1, and endothelial permeability. To confirm that resveratrol mediated its effects via Nrf2, we examined the impact of resveratrol on the same in vitro markers of endothelial and placental dysfunction following Nrf2 knockdown. Results Resveratrol significantly decreased placental oxidative stress and the production of sFlt1 and activin A. Resveratrol significantly mitigated tumor necrosis factor–α stimulated endothelial expression of ICAM1, VCAM1, E-selectin and endothelin-1 and prevented an increase in endothelial monolayer permeability. Nrf2 knockdown abolished some of the protective effects of resveratrol on endothelial cells, but not in primary trophoblast cells. Conclusion Features of placental and endothelial dysfunction characteristic of preeclampsia are improved by resveratrol in vitro, partially via the modulation of Nrf2.
- Activin A
- Fms-like tyrosine kinase 1
- Heme oxygenase-1
- Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor-2 (Nrf2)