Is the atherosclerotic phenotype of preeclamptic placentas due to altered lipoprotein concentrations and placental lipoprotein receptors? Role of a small-for-gestational-age phenotype

J Lipid Res. 2013 Oct;54(10):2658-64. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M036699. Epub 2013 Jul 29.


Atherosis of spiral arteries in uteroplacental beds from preeclamptic women resemble those of atherosclerosis, characterized by increased plasma lipids and lipoproteins. We hypothesized that: 1) lipoprotein receptors/transporters in the placenta would be upregulated in preeclampsia, associated with increased maternal and fetal lipoprotein concentrations; and 2) expression of these would be reduced in preeclamptic placentae from women delivering small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants. Placental biopsies and maternal and umbilical serum samples were taken from 27 normotensive and 24 preeclamptic women. Maternal/umbilical cord serum LDL, HDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides were measured. Placental mRNA expression of lipoprotein receptors/transporters were quantified using quantitative RT-PCR. Protein localization/expression of LDL receptor-related protein 1 (LRP-1) in the preeclamptic placentae with/without SGA was measured by immunohistochemistry. Placental mRNA expression of all genes except paraoxonase-1 (PON-1), microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTTP), and protein disulfide isomerase family A member 2 (PDIA2) were observed. No differences for any lipoprotein receptors/transporters were found between groups; however, in the preeclamptic group placental LRP-1 expression was lower in SGA delivering mothers (n = 7; P = 0.036). LRP-1 protein was localized around fetal vessels and Hofbauer cells. This is the first detailed study of maternal/fetal lipoprotein concentrations and placental lipoprotein receptor mRNA expression in normotensive and preeclamptic pregnancies. These findings do not support a role of altered lipid metabolism in preeclampsia, but may be involved in fetal growth.

Keywords: ATP binding cassette transporter A1; LDL receptor; LDL receptor-related protein 1; fetal growth; high density lipoprotein cholesterol; hypertension; lipids; low density liporotein cholesterol; scavenger receptor class B type 1; triglycerides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Birth Weight
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-1 / genetics
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-1 / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Placenta / blood supply
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Young Adult


  • LRP1 protein, human
  • Lipoproteins
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-1