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Reproduction. 2011 Sep;142(3):467-76. doi: 10.1530/REP-10-0484. Epub 2011 Jun 20.

Placental markers of folate-related metabolism in preeclampsia.

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Slovak Medical University, Limbova 12, Bratislava 83303, Slovak Republic.


The etiology and degree of clinical symptoms of preeclampsia depend on genotypic and phenotypic maternal and trophoblast factors, and elevated levels of plasma homocysteine (Hcy) are one of the pathogenetic factors of preeclampsia. To assess the impact of the folate-related metabolism, we characterized the indices of this metabolism in 40 samples from uncomplicated term placentas and 28 samples from preeclamptic pregnancies by quantifying the total content of folate, methionine (Met), Hcy and related cysteine, and glutathione (GSH) in compliance with the 677 C/T genotype of methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). The prevalence of MTHFR genotypes was not significantly different between the two groups. The polymorphism of MTHFR was not unambiguously connected with the content of total placental Met, Hcy and related cysteine, and GSH either in uncomplicated or in complicated pregnancies. By contrast, the combination of the heterozygous MTHFR genotype with folate deficiency in the samples from preeclamptic pregnancies was characterized by a statistically significant decrease in the Met content, a trend toward increased Hcy levels and a tight association between metabolically directly and indirectly related compounds, e.g. positive relation between Hcy versus cysteine and folate versus GSH and negative relation between folate versus Hcy and both Hcy and cysteine versus GSH. We demonstrated the expression of cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS) in human placenta at term by RT-PCR and western blot analysis, for the first time, and confirmed its catalytic activity and the accumulation of cysteine and CBS in placental explants cultivated in the presence of elevated Hcy concentrations. We suggest that disturbance in placental folate-related metabolism may be one of the pathogenetic factors in preeclampsia.

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