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Am J Pathol. 2004 Mar;164(3):1049-61.

Secretion of tumor necrosis factor-alpha from human placental tissues induced by hypoxia-reoxygenation causes endothelial cell activation in vitro: a potential mediator of the inflammatory response in preeclampsia.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.


Preeclampsia is a hypertensive complication of human pregnancy characterized by generalized maternal endothelial cell activation. Circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines derived from the placenta are thought to play a key role. We recently demonstrated that hypoxia-reoxygenation (H/R) of placental tissues in vitro causes equivalent oxidative stress to that seen in preeclampsia. Our aim was to determine whether H/R also increases production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and whether conditioned media from samples exposed to H/R causes activation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Concentrations of mRNA encoding TNF-alpha were significantly higher in placental tissues subjected to H/R compared to hypoxic or normoxic controls. Although there was no difference in the concentrations of TNF-alpha protein in tissue homogenates, levels of TNF-alpha protein in the medium were significantly higher after H/R compared to controls, indicating increased secretion. Furthermore, conditioned medium from samples subjected to H/R caused increased expression of E-selectin by HUVECs, and the addition of anti-TNF-alpha antibodies significantly reduced that activation. These results are consistent with our hypothesis that intermittent perfusion of the placenta, secondary to reduced trophoblast invasion, causes increased secretion of TNF-alpha, and that this contributes to the activation of maternal endothelial cells that characterizes preeclampsia.

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