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Placenta. 2008 Sep;29(9):763-71. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2008.06.011. Epub 2008 Aug 8.

The functional role of the renin-angiotensin system in pregnancy and preeclampsia.

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University of Texas - Houston Health Science Center, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 6431 Fannin Street, MSB 6.200, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


During normal pregnancy, the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) plays a vitally important role in salt balance and subsequent well-being of mother and fetus. In this balance, one must consider not only the classical renal RAS but also that of the uteroplacental unit, where both maternal and fetal tissues contribute to the signaling cascade. Many studies have shown that in normal pregnancy there is an increase in almost all of the components of the RAS. In derangements of pregnancy this delicate equilibrium can become unbalanced. Preeclampsia is one such case. It is a disorder of pregnancy characterized by hypertension, proteinuria and placental abnormalities associated with shallow trophoblast invasion and impaired spiral artery remodeling. Despite being a leading cause of maternal death and a major contributor to maternal and perinatal morbidity, the mechanisms responsible for the pathogenesis of preeclampsia are poorly understood. Immunological mechanisms and the RAS have been long considered to be involved in the development of preeclampsia. Numerous recent studies demonstrate the presence of the angiotensin II type I receptor agonistic autoantibody (AT1-AA). This autoantibody can induce many key features of the disorder and upregulate molecules involved in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. Here we review the functional role of the RAS during pregnancy and the impact of AT1-AA on preeclampsia.

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