Alterations in cardiac structure and function caused by preeclampsia
20 September 2018 (online)
Preeclampsia is a major cause of maternal and fetal mortality and morbidity worldwide. The American Heart Association first mentioned the history of preeclampsia as a risk factor for later cardiovascular disease in 2011. To investigate the causes, we aim to characterize the cardiovascular effects of preeclampsia.
Materials & Methods:
In our transgenic rat model, we performed maternal echocardiography and speckle trackle analysis at the end of pregnancy and postpartum. This enables tracing of the myocardium within the whole cardiac cycle providing more sensitive results than conventional echocardiography analysis. We also investigated cardiac changes on gene (qPCR) and protein expression levels (ELISA, IHC staining) in maternal rats.
Preeclamptic rats display a mild reduced systolic ejection fraction and an increased relative wall thickness in left ventricle. In addition, preeclamptic rats have a significant decrease in global longitudinal strain as well as strain rate. This describes a reduced myocardial deformation in relation to its original shape and within the speed at which this occurs. The hearts of preeclamptic rats displayed increased interstitial and perivascular fibrosis. Finally, we were able to show that the echocardiographic changes in our transgenic rat model are comparable to human data.
Our transgenic preeclamptic rats display functional cardiac changes during pregnancy similarly to human situation. Structural remodeling regarding hypertrophy and increased fibrosis levels could be described in maternal rats during preeclamptic pregnancy and postpartum. With this translational approach we were able to find the presumed cause for this weakened cardiac function due to preeclampsia.