Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-specific disease characterized by hypertension, proteinuria, and oxidative stress in the placenta. During the last trimester of gestation, calcium (Ca(2+)) transport from mother to fetus increases dramatically in response to the increased demand for Ca(2+) caused by bone mineralization in the fetus. Ca(2+) supplementation can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of preeclampsia or delay its onset. Ca(2+) transport channels (CTCs) include transient receptor potential vanilloid 6 (TRPV6), plasma membrane Ca(2+) ATPase (PMCA1), and Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchangers (NCKX3 or NCX1). We hypothesized that trans-placental Ca(2+) exchange in preeclamptic trophoblasts may be compensated for successful fetal bone mineralization. The roles of cell membrane channels (TRPV6, PMCA1, NCKX3 and NCX1) were examined in placental primary cells and in normotensive and preeclamptic placentas. The biomarker gene for preeclampsia, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFLT1) or marker for oxygen-sensitive gene, hypoxia-sensitive inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), were up-regulated in the preeclamptic placentas and hypoxic cells. The detection of sFLT1 and HIF-1α genes demonstrated that our experimental conditions were suitable to verify a preeclamptic condition. In women experiencing preterm labor, CTC expressions was found to be increased in the fetal and maternal regions of the preeclamptic placenta compared to the observed in normotensive placenta. During term labor, TRPV6 and PMCA1 were highly expressed in the fetal and maternal sections of preeclamptic placenta, while the expression of NCKX3 and NCX1 was reduced. In addition, the expression of CTCs was altered in hypoxia-stressed placental cells. Taken together, our findings demonstrated that the expression of CTCs was regulated by hypoxia stress in placenta tissues and cells, suggesting that our experimental in vitro hypoxic conditions were similar to those of preeclampsia. Furthermore, impaired Ca(2+) metabolism found in preeclamptic syncytiotrophoblasts was resulted from hypoxic stress, which may induce expression of Ca(2+) transport proteins in the placenta to maintain the balance between maternal and fetal Ca(2+) demand during pregnancy.
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