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BACKGROUND: Children from pregnancies affected by preeclampsia have an increased risk of cognitive and behavioral alterations via unknown pathophysiology. We tested the hypothesis that preeclampsia generated reduced brain cortex angiogenesis in the offspring. METHODS: The preeclampsia-like syndrome (PELS) mouse model was generated by administering the NO inhibitor NG-nitroarginine methyl ester hydrochloride. Confirmatory experiments were done using 2 additional PELS models. While in vitro analysis used mice and human brain endothelial cells exposed to serum of postnatal day 5 pups or umbilical plasma from preeclamptic pregnancies, respectively. RESULTS: We report significant reduction in the area occupied by blood vessels in the motor and somatosensory brain cortex of offspring (postnatal day 5) from PELS compared with uncomplicated control offspring. These data were confirmed using 2 additional PELS models. Furthermore, circulating levels of critical proangiogenic factors, VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), and PlGF (placental growth factor) were lower in postnatal day 5 PELS. Also we found lower VEGF receptor 2 (KDR [kinase insert domain-containing receptor]) levels in mice and human endothelial cells exposed to the serum of postnatal day 5 PELS or fetal plasma of preeclamptic pregnancies, respectively. These changes were associated with lower in vitro angiogenic capacity, diminished cell migration, larger F-actin filaments, lower number of filopodia, and lower protein levels of F-actin polymerization regulators in brain endothelial cells exposed to serum or fetal plasma of offspring from preeclampsia. CONCLUSIONS: Offspring from preeclampsia exhibited diminished brain cortex angiogenesis, associated with lower circulating VEGF/PlGF/KDR protein levels, impaired brain endothelial migration, and dysfunctional assembly of F-actin filaments. These alterations may predispose to structural and functional alterations in long-term brain development.

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actins, cell movement, humans, preeclampsia, pregnancy