Mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant attenuates preeclampsia-like phenotypes induced by syncytiotrophoblast-specific Gαq signaling

Sci Adv. 2023 Dec;9(48):eadg8118. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.adg8118. Epub 2023 Dec 1.


Syncytiotrophoblast stress is theorized to drive development of preeclampsia, but its molecular causes and consequences remain largely undefined. Multiple hormones implicated in preeclampsia signal via the Gαq cascade, leading to the hypothesis that excess Gαq signaling within the syncytiotrophoblast may contribute. First, we present data supporting increased Gαq signaling and antioxidant responses within villous and syncytiotrophoblast samples of human preeclamptic placenta. Second, Gαq was activated in mouse placenta using Cre-lox and DREADD methodologies. Syncytiotrophoblast-restricted Gαq activation caused hypertension, kidney damage, proteinuria, elevated circulating proinflammatory factors, decreased placental vascularization, diminished spiral artery diameter, and augmented responses to mitochondrial-derived superoxide. Administration of the mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant Mitoquinone attenuated maternal proteinuria, lowered circulating inflammatory and anti-angiogenic mediators, and maintained placental vascularization. These data demonstrate a causal relationship between syncytiotrophoblast stress and the development of preeclampsia and identify elevated Gαq signaling and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species as a cause of this stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Female
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Placenta
  • Pre-Eclampsia*
  • Pregnancy
  • Proteinuria
  • Trophoblasts


  • Antioxidants
  • GTP-Binding Proteins