Research: Vascular reactivity is altered in the placentas of fetuses with congenital diaphragmatic hernia


. 2023 Dec 2:145:51-59.

 doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2023.11.015. Online ahead of print.

Vascular reactivity is altered in the placentas of fetuses with congenital diaphragmatic hernia

Emily J J Horn-Oudshoorn 1Michelle Broekhuizen 2Madhavi S Harhangi 3Sinno H P Simons 1Alex J Eggink 4A H Jan Danser 5Irwin K M Reiss 1Philip L J DeKoninck 6

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Introduction: Infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) often develop pulmonary hypertension but frequently fail to respond to vasodilator therapy, for instance because of an altered pulmonary vasoreactivity. Investigating such alterations in vivo is impossible. We hypothesised that these alterations are also present in fetoplacental vessels, since both vasculatures are exposed to the same circulating factors (e.g. endothelin-1) and respond similarly to certain stimuli (e.g. hypoxia). As proof-of-concept, we compared fetoplacental vasoreactivity between healthy and CDH-affected placentas.

Methods: Fetoplacental vascular function of healthy and antenatally diagnosed left-sided CDH fetuses was assessed by wire myography. Placental expression of enzymes and receptors involved in the altered vasoreactive pathways was measured using quantitative PCR.

Results: CDH arteries (n = 6) constricted more strongly to thromboxane A2 agonist U46619 (p < 0.001) and dilated less to bradykinin (p = 0.01) and nitric oxide (NO)-donor sodium nitroprusside (p = 0.04) than healthy arteries (n = 8). Vasodilation to prostacyclin analogue iloprost and adenylate cyclase stimulator forskolin, and vasoconstriction to endothelin-1 were not different between both groups. Angiotensin II did not induce vasoconstriction. Phosphodiesterase inhibitors sildenafil and milrinone did not affect responses to sodium nitroprusside, forskolin, or U46619. The mRNA expression of guanylate cyclase 1 soluble subunit alpha 1 (p = 0.003) and protein kinase cyclic guanine monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent 1 (p = 0.02) were reduced in CDH versus healthy placentas.

Discussion: The identified changes in the thromboxane and NO-cGMP pathways in the fetoplacental vasculature correspond with currently described alterations in the pulmonary vasculature in CDH. Therefore, fetoplacental arteries may provide an opportunity to predict pulmonary therapeutic responses in infants with CDH.

Keywords: Artery; Congenital diaphragmatic hernia; Nitric oxide; Placenta; Thromboxane; Vascular reactivity; Vasoconstriction; Vasodilation.

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