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Am J Nephrol. 2010;32(4):332-9. doi: 10.1159/000319463. Epub 2010 Aug 19.

Contribution of angiogenic factors in a rat model of pre-eclampsia.

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Department of Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center/Scott & White, Temple, USA.



Pre-eclampsia is a disorder that results in significant feto-maternal complications with yet no definitive pharmacologic intervention. One postulated etiologic mechanism is an imbalance between circulating pro-angiogenic and anti-angiogenic factors. We investigated these factors sequentially throughout pregnancy (19-21 days) in our rat model of pre-eclampsia, which involves the imposition of excessive volume expansion.


We evaluated the status of the pro-angiogenic and anti-angiogenic factors at the following time points: 3-5, 7-10 and 17-20 days of gestation.


We have previously determined that the urinary excretion of the circulating bufodienolide, marinobufagenin, is elevated at the 3- to 5-day time period, prior to the advent of hypertension and proteinuria. At 3-5 days of pregnancy, there was no evidence of angiogenic imbalance in the normal pregnant (NP) and 'pre-eclamptic' (PDS) rats. At the 7- to 10-day time point, plasma PlGF was greater in the NP rats than in the PDS group (p < 0.05). The plasma sFlt-1/PlGF ratio in the PDS animals was greater than that in the NP rats (p < 0.05). The placental sFlt-1 and sFlt-1/PlGF ratio were greater in the PDS rats than in NP rats (p < 0.05). These changes were also present at the 17- to 20-day time point in both plasma and placenta. The administration of resibufogenin, an antagonist of marinobufagenin, early in pregnancy, prevented angiogenic imbalance.


We conclude that angiogenic imbalance plays a role in the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia in this rat model. Furthermore, the earliest event in the pathogenetic sequence appears to be the secretion and elaboration of marinobufagenin.

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