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Am J Kidney Dis. 1997 Mar;29(3):345-54.

Immunohistochemical study of endothelin-1 in preeclamptic nephropathy.

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  • 1Second Department of Internal Medicine, Toho University, School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


Whether the serum levels of endothelin, a vasoconstrictive peptide produced in the endothelial cell, increase in preeclamptic patients is still controversial. We performed immunohistochemical studies to observe the changes in endothelin-1 (ET-1) in preeclamptic kidney tissues. The monoclonal anti-human ET-1 antibody (Yamasa, Japan) and anti-von Willebrand factor (vWF, Dako, Denmark), a marker of endothelial cells, were used for the studies by the strepto-avidin-biotin peroxidase method (ABC-POD Kit, Wako, Japan). Twenty-nine patients and 12 normal controls were divided into four groups. The preeclamptic group included 14 patients diagnosed with preeclampsia by clinical symptoms of hypertension, proteinuria, and edema occurring in late pregnancy and as having preeclamptic nephropathy. They underwent renal biopsy 16.7 +/- 1.0 (mean +/- SEM) days after delivery. The nephrotic group comprised 10 normotensive nonpregnant patients with nephrotic-range proteinuria examined through biopsy before treatment (six cases of minimal change, two of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, one of membranous nephropathy, and one of IgA nephropathy). The pregnant women with preexisting glomerular disease group included five pregnant women with normal renal function who were normotensive and had no increase in the amount of proteinuria throughout pregnancy. They underwent renal biopsy 10.8 +/- 2.9 days after delivery (two cases of membranous nephropathy, one of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, one of thin basement membrane disease, and one of non-IgA mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis). The normal kidney group comprised 12 healthy tissue samples taken from nephrectomized kidneys (five cases of renal cell carcinoma, one case of lipofibrosarcoma, and six cases of kidney transplant donors). In these four groups, ET-1 and vWF showed equally positive staining in small arteries. VWF also showed positive staining in arterioles and peritubular capillaries in all groups. Although the glomeruli showed positive staining with ET-1 along the capillary walls in the normal group and the nonpregnant nephrotic group, they showed very weak or negative results in the preeclamptic group. Moreover, gravida with underlying glomerular disease without superimposed preeclampsia also showed negative findings of ET-1 in the glomeruli. The glomeruli in the four groups showed positive findings, with vWF readings the same as in the controls. These results indicate that the production of ET-1 in the glomerular endothelial cells decreases in cases of both preeclampsia and normal pregnancy, and the condition may be caused by pregnancy itself.

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