Preeclampsia is characterized by maternal endothelial dysfunction (e.g., increased maternal vascular permeability caused by the disassembly of endothelial junction proteins). However, it is unclear if preeclampsia is associated with impaired vascular growth and expression of endothelial junction proteins in human placentas. Herein, we examined vascular growth in placentas from women with normal term (NT) and preeclamptic (PE) pregnancies using two endothelial junction proteins as endothelial markers: CD31 and vascular endothelial-cadherin (VE-Cad). We also compared protein and mRNA expression of CD31 and VE-Cad between NT and PE placentas, and determined the alternatively spliced expression of CD31 using PCR. We found that CD31 and VE-Cad were immunolocalized predominantly in villous endothelial cells. However, capillary number density (total capillary number per unit villous area) and capillary area density (total capillary lumen area per unit villous area) as well as CD31 and VE-Cad protein and mRNA levels were similar between NT and PE placentas. PCR in combination with sequence analysis revealed a single, full-length CD31, suggesting that there are no alternatively spliced isoform of CD31 expressed in placentas. These data indicate that preeclampsia does not significantly affect vascular growth or the expression of endothelial junction proteins in human placentas.
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