Preeclampsia is a major hypertensive disease caused by pregnancy, inducing proteinuria and increased blood pressure starting from the second half of pregnancy (early preeclampsia) or near the end of pregnancy (late preeclampsia). Pre-symptomatic diagnosis would allow for therapeutic interventions, such as with low-dose aspirin. Among non-invasive methods to explore organ physiology, Doppler ultrasonography (US) and functional blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) MRI (which do not need radioactive contrast agents such as gadolinium) can be used in pregnant women.
In this study, we used US and BOLD MRI to finely characterize the phenotype of preeclampsia induced by the foeto-placental overexpression of the transcription factor storkhead box 1A (STOX1A) in female mice.
We could observe late fetal growth restriction consistent with the placental dysfunction revealed by US and the known association between preeclampsia and intra-uterine growth restriction. On US, uterine and umbilical artery as well as heart and kidney parameters were modified in preeclamptic mice. On BOLD MRI, mean T2* values revealed considerable differences between control and preeclamptic placentas, which suggests altered dynamics of oxygen release and ratio of oxyhemoglobin to deoxyhemoglobin in the model.
These preliminary pre-clinical results suggest that BOLD MRI could be evaluated as a prognostic/diagnostic tool for preeclampsia.