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Development. 2003 Sep;130(18):4439-50.

A functional overlap of plasminogen and MMPs regulates vascularization during placental development.

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Finsen Laboratory, Rigshospitalet, Strandboulevarden 49, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.


Both plasminogen activators and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have been implicated in a variety of developmental processes in the mouse during embryo implantation and placentation. We show here that pharmacological treatment of plasminogen-deficient mice with the broad spectrum MMP inhibitor galardin leads to a high rate of embryonic lethality. Implantation sites from plasminogen-deficient galardin-treated mice at 7.5 days post coitus (dpc) showed delay in both decidualization and invasion of maternal vessels into the decidua. At 8.5 dpc, half of the embryos were runted and still at the developmental stage of a 7.5 dpc embryo. Most embryos that escaped these initial defects eventually died, probably from defective vascularization and development of the labyrinth layer of the placenta, although a direct role on embryo development cannot be ruled out. These results demonstrate that the combination of MMPs and plasminogen is essential for the proper development of the placenta. Plasminogen deficiency alone and galardin treatment alone had much less effect and there was a pronounced synergism on both placental vascularization and embryonic lethality, indicating a functional overlap between plasminogen and MMPs.

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