Trophoblasts reduce the vascular smooth muscle cell proatherogenic response


  • L. Hering
  • F. Herse
  • S. Verlohren
  • J.K. Park
  • M. Wellner
  • F. Qadri
  • R. Pijnenborg
  • A.C. Staff
  • B. Huppertz
  • D.N. Mueller
  • F.C. Luft
  • R. Dechend


  • Hypertension


  • Hypertension 51 (2): 554-559


  • Maternal spiral artery remodeling is the consequence of controlled trophoblast invasive interaction with the maternal cellular environment and is fundamentally important for successful placentation. In preeclampsia, trophoblast invasion is shallow, remodeling is incomplete, and vessels develop an inflammatory appearance, termed "acute atherosis." We noted that, in our preeclampsia, human renin-human angiotensinogen transgenic rat model, complement component 3 (C3), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were upregulated and heavily expressed in atherotic uteroplacental vessels. We next used coculture involving human trophoblasts, rat vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), and human VSMCs to observe VSMC-trophoblast regulatory interactions. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha induced complement C3 and interleukin-6 expression in VSMCs. We found that trophoblasts were able to reduce VSMC C3 and interleukin-6 expression after the VSMCs were stimulated with tumor necrosis factor-alpha. However, a direct VSMC-trophoblast cell-cell contact was necessary for this anti-inflammatory response. We also studied double-transgenic VSMCs that express inflammatory components and exhibit accelerated proliferation ("synthetic" phenotype). Trophoblasts could not downregulate C3 in these cells. We then examined uteroplacental tissues from preeclamptic and control patients. In control deciduas, only traces of C3 staining were observed, and vessels were thin walled without thrombus formation. In preeclampsia, the decidual vessels showed atherosis, thrombus formation, and C3 expression. Our data suggest that fetally derived trophoblasts require direct cell-cell contact with maternally derived VSMCs to downregulate VSMC C3 and interleukin-6 expression and to avoid atherosis. The findings also implicate C3 in the placental vasculopathy observed in preeclampsia.