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Hum Pathol. 2002 Nov;33(11):1069-77.

Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor, placental growth factor, and their receptors Flt-1 and KDR in human placenta under pathologic conditions.

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Department of Molecular Medicine, Osaka Medical Center and Research Institute for Maternal and Child Health, Osaka, Japan.

Erratum in

  • Hum Pathol 2002 Dec;33(12):1244.


The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family and its receptors have multifunctional activities besides angiogenesis, and some of these molecules are induced by hypoxia/ischemia. They are known to be expressed in human placenta, but little is known about their involvement in pathologic conditions. We have investigated the expression patterns of VEGF, placental growth factor (PlGF), and their receptors fms-like tyrosine kinase (Flt-1) and kinase insert domain-containing region (KDR) in placentas with histopathological changes. Forty-two placentas from normal and complicated pregnancies delivered in the second and third trimesters were fixed with paraformaldehyde and embedded in paraffin. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry were performed on serial sections. In the villi with characteristic hypoxic/ischemic changes (HIC), including increased syncytial knots, infarction, or hypercapillarization, intense immunostaining for VEGF was detected in the media of blood vessels, and increased staining for KDR was demonstrated in the endothelial cells. Strong PlGF immunoreactivity was localized to the degenerative trophoblasts around the infarctions. Marked Flt-1 mRNA expression in the syncytiotrophoblast layers of HIC villi was identified, but some samples did not show ligand expression in these regions. Positive immunostaining for VEGF, PlGF, and Flt-1 was observed in infiltrated neutrophils and macrophages in the placentas with chorioamnionitis (CAM). These findings suggested that in the hypoxic/ischemic regions, VEGF and KDR expression is increased within the villous vessels by paracrine regulation, whereas the expression of PlGF and Flt-1 is enhanced in villous trophoblasts by autocrine regulation. The Flt-1 gene may also be up-regulated directly by hypoxia/ischemia independently of ligand mediation. Furthermore, the results indicated that VEGF and PlGF stimulate inflammatory cell migration by autocrine regulation via the Flt-1 receptor in the CAM placenta. Thus, various functions of VEGF family members participate in the development of pathologic changes in the placenta.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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