Spontaneous pregnancy-induced hypertension and intrauterine growth restriction in rats

Leslie C. Sharkey, Sylvia A. McCune, Olive Yuan, Craig Lange, John Fray

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25 Scopus citations


The SHHF/Mcc-facp (spontaneous hypertension and heart failure) rat is advanced as a novel and suitable non-primate model of pregnancy-associated hypertension and fetal growth restriction because it simultaneously has spontaneous pregnancy-associated hypertension, small for gestational age (SGA) offsprings, and altered placental gene expression. Pregnancy-associated hypertension is a major contributor to maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality with the potential to result in maternal death and the need for iatrogenic preterm delivery. It has been reported to develop spontaneously in humans, but not in animals; consequently, progress in identifying the cause and pathogenesis of this disorder has been hampered. Spontaneous hypertension and heart failure rats develop hypertension spontaneously as they age, therefore we sought to determine whether these rats developed hypertension and SGA offsprings during pregnancy. Our results show that systolic blood pressure (BP) increased >40 mm Hg by the end of the first trimester and remained at this elevated level for the remainder of pregnancy, but decreased after parturition. Placenta weights of SHHF rats (0.60 ± 0.02 g, n = 36) were significantly higher than Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats (0.42 ± 0.01 g, n = 22, P < .05), but pup weights were significantly lower (2.68 ± 0.06 g for SHHF rats compared to 3.24 ± 0.06 g for WKY controls, P < .05). Histologic examination revealed pathologic lesions in neither heart, liver, placenta, nor kidney. L-Arginine administered in drinking water prevented the elevation of BP, particularly during the third trimester. Placentas from SHHF rats displayed altered expression of several genes whose protein products have been implicated in preeclampsia, including serotonin receptor, sodium channel, carbonic anhydrase, estrogen receptor regulator, major histocompatibility complex proteins, superoxide dismutase, and angiotensiogen. In addition, gene expression profiling showed alteration of a number of subcellular putative myristoylproteins not previously associated with preeclampsia, particularly those engaged in post-translational modifications in the placenta. Thus, SHHF rats may be a valuable tool, because it simultaneously has spontaneous pregnancy-associated hypertension, SGA offsprings, and altered placental gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1058-1066
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of hypertension
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially funded by the National Science Foundation (DBI 9904557).

Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Angiotensinogen
  • Gene expression profiling
  • Low birth weight
  • Microarray analysis
  • Post-translational modifications
  • Pregnancy-associated hypertension
  • SHHF/Mcc-fa rats
  • Severe preeclampsia
  • Small for gestational age offsprings


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