Maternal Flt-1 and endoglin expression by circulating monocyte subtype and polarization in preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol X. 2019 Apr 30;3:100024. doi: 10.1016/j.eurox.2019.100024. eCollection 2019 Jul.


Objective: Circulating levels of the anti-angiogenic factors sFlt-1 and sEndoglin are elevated in preeclampsia (PE) and fetal growth restriction (FGR), mainly secreted from placental trophoblast. This study aims to identify the contributory role of monocyte Flt-1 and endoglin expression in PE and FGR.

Study design: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted and patients recruited from four clinical groups including normal pregnancy, PE, FGR and PE + FGR. Peripheral blood samples and cord blood were collected from 54 pregnant women between 24-40 weeks of gestation. Monocyte subset distribution was assessed using CD14 and CD16 expression and the surface expression of Flt-1, endoglin, CD86 and CD163 assessed by flow cytometry. We compared these factors between (1) clinical groups. (2) monocyte subset (3) monocyte polarization and (4) gestational age.

Results: Across all clinical groups, Flt-1 was mainly expressed by classical and intermediate monocytes, but no differences between clinical groups were observed. Surface expression of endoglin was higher on intermediate and non-classical monocytes and decreased in PE + FGR total monocytes. Flt-1 and endoglin expression correlated with increasing gestational age as well as higher CD86/CD163 ratio favouring M1 polarisation. The fetal monocyte endoglin expression was increased in FGR.

Conclusion: We conclude that monocyte Flt-1 and endoglin expression increase with gestational age and with M1 polarization suggesting their upregulation with inflammatory changes in monocytes. Endoglin expression by M1 monocytes may play a part in increased cardiovascular risk associated with preeclampsia. Endoglin expression on fetal monocytes is increased in FGR as a likely response to placental injury.

Keywords: Endoglin; Fetal growth restriction; Fms like tyrosine kinase inhibitor; Monocyte; Preeclampsia; Pregnancy; Subsets.