Cell death normally occurs during pregnancy and is critical during its common complication, preeclampsia. The long pentraxin 3 (PTX3) gene is generated in tissues that cope with excessive or deregulated cell death and inhibits the cross-presentation of cell-associated antigens. We examined whether PTX3 is expressed during pregnancy and possibly involved in the development of preeclampsia.
Women with preeclampsia (n = 30), women with uncomplicated pregnancies (n = 66), age-matched healthy women (n = 50), women who developed acute bacterial infections (n = 20), and women with rheumatoid arthritis (n = 20) were studied. The concentrations of PTX3 were measured in the blood by a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and in placentas by immunohistochemistry. The concentrations of PTX3 and C-reactive protein in the various groups were compared by nonparametric tests (the Mann-Whitney U and the Kruskal-Wallis tests). The odds of developing preeclampsia were assessed using logistic regression.
PTX3 was expressed in amniotic epithelium and chorionic mesoderm, trophoblast terminal villi, and perivascular stroma in placentas from pregnancies of uncomplicated subjects. Circulating levels steadily rose during normal gestation and peaked during labor. Serum levels of PTX3 were strikingly higher in preeclampsia compared with normal control pregnancies (5.08 ± 1.34 and 0.59 ± 0.07 ng/mL, respectively, P < .001). Sites of higher expression in the placentas from preeclamptic patients include infarcts and fibrinoid zones.
Defects in the homeostatic response to cell death/remodeling events, revealed by enhanced levels of PTX3, could be implicated in preeclampsia.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: