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Hypertension. 2012 Jun;59(6):1249-55. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.188730. Epub 2012 Apr 9.

Reduced methylation of the thromboxane synthase gene is correlated with its increased vascular expression in preeclampsia.

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Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA23298-0034, USA.


Preeclampsia is characterized by increased thromboxane and decreased prostacyclin levels, which predate symptoms, and can explain some of the clinical manifestations of preeclampsia, including hypertension and thrombosis. In this study, we examined DNA methylation of the promoter region of the thromboxane synthase gene (TBXAS1) and the expression of thromboxane synthase in systemic blood vessels of normal pregnant and preeclamptic women. Thromboxane synthase is responsible for the synthesis of thromboxane A(2), a potent vasoconstrictor and activator of platelets. We also examined the effect of experimentally induced DNA hypomethylation on the expression of thromboxane synthase in a neutrophil-like cell line (HL-60 cells) and in cultured vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells. We found that DNA methylation of the TBXAS1 promoter was decreased and thromboxane synthase expression was increased in omental arteries of preeclamptic women as compared with normal pregnant women. Increased thromboxane synthase expression was observed in vascular smooth muscles cells, endothelial cells, and infiltrating neutrophils. Experimentally induced DNA hypomethylation only increased expression of thromboxane synthase in the neutrophil-like cell line, whereas tumor necrosis factor-α, a neutrophil product, increased its expression in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells. Our study suggests that epigenetic mechanisms and release of tumor necrosis factor-α by infiltrating neutrophils could contribute to the increased expression of thromboxane synthase in maternal systemic blood vessels, contributing to the hypertension and coagulation abnormalities associated with preeclampsia.

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