• Retinoic acid is a negative regulator of sFLT1 expression in decidual stromal cells, and its levels are reduced in preeclamptic decidua

      Deepak, Venkataraman; Sahu, Margaret B.; Yu, Jianshi; Jones, Jace W.; Kane, Maureen A.; Taylor, Robert N.; Badell, Martina L.; Sidell, Neil; Rajakumar, Augustine; Emory University (Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health), 2019-03-18)
      sFLT1 (soluble VEGF [vascular endothelial growth factor] receptor-1) levels are increased in preeclampsia—a pathological condition of pregnancy. The mechanism of sFLT1 overexpression by gestational tissues, particularly the decidua, remains unknown. Mass spectrometry measurement of the active retinoid metabolite, all-trans retinoic acid (RA), showed significantly lower levels of RA in preeclamptic versus normotensive decidua. In this study, we investigated the involvement of RA in regulating decidual sFLT1 expression. When decidual stromal cells (DSCs) isolated from the decidua basalis of normotensive and preeclampsia placentas were treated with BMS493—a pan-RAR (RA nuclear receptor) antagonist—upregulation of sFLT1 expression was observed. Conversely, treatment with RA resulted in downregulation of sFLT1 in normotensive DSCs and preeclampsia DSCs. Unlike treatment with cAMP, which induces decidualization while downregulating sFLT1, RA treatment did not alter DSC expression of prolactin—a marker of decidualization—or FOXO1 (forkhead box protein 01)—a transcription factor required for prolactin upregulation. TFAP2A (transcription factor AP-2-alpha [activating enhancer-binding protein 2 alpha]), a different transcription factor was upregulated in normotensive DSCs but not in preeclampsia DSCs after RA treatment. Collectively, our data show that RA suppresses sFLT1 expression in DSCs independently of cellular decidualization. These findings suggest that reduced decidual RA levels may contribute to preeclampsia pathogenesis by allowing sFLT1 accumulation at the maternal-fetal interface.