The levels of endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity (ET-1-LI) and characteristics of endothelin receptors in the chorionic villous tissue of human placenta were determined. The ET-1-LI level in chorionic villous tissue obtained from normal term placenta was 2,450 ± 940 pg/g wet weight (mean ± SD, n = 4). Further analysis using gel permeation chromatography and reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography showed that the main ET-1-LI constituent of ET-1-LI in this tissue was ET-1. Scatchard analysis of [125I]ET-1 binding to the membrane fraction of chorionic villous tissue obtained from term placenta showed high affinity receptor sites with an apparent dissociation constant (Kd) of 23.6 ± 11.1 pM and a Bmax value of 388 ± 238 fmol/mg protein (n = 5). The same binding study with [125I]ET-3 showed a Kd of 13.9 ± 3.8 pM and a Bmax value of 176 ± 78 fmol/mg protein (n = 5). These results suggest that both ET-A and ET-B receptors (ET-AR and ET-BR) are expressed in chorionic villous tissue. This finding was further confirmed by Northern blot analysis showing the expression of both ET-AR and ET-BR mRNAs in this tissue. ET-1-LI in the umbilical venous plasma of the newborns from women with pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) (38.3 ± 10.4 pg/mL, n = 5) was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than that in the normal newborns from normotensive pregnant women (26.3 ± 5.2 pg/mL, n = 12). However, in placental chorionic villous tissue obtained from PIH women, both ET-1-LI level and ET binding profile were not different from those in chorionic villous tissue from normotensive pregnant women. These results suggest that the abundant ET-ET receptor system is present in the placental chorionic villous tissue and that this system is not the major factor of the pathogenesis of placental dysfunction occurring in PIH because these systems are similar in normotensive and hypertensive pregnancies.
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