Xenobiotica | VOL. 52

Cadmium-induced preeclampsia-like phenotype in the rat is related to decreased progesterone synthesis in the placenta

Publication Date Jun 3, 2022


Cadmium (Cd) is a toxic element, which is associated with preeclampsia (PE). We treated pregnant rats with cadmium chloride from gestational days (GDs) 9–12 to introduce the PE-like animal model. Maternal systolic blood pressures (SBPs) and body weights were measured on GDs 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20. Foetuses were delivered by Caesarean section on GD20. Then, the dams were sacrificed and the specimens were obtained. The morphological analysis of the placentae was carried out by haematoxylin and eosin staining examination and immunohistochemistry assay. Our study showed that Cd-treated rats developed PE-like phenotypes, such as hypertension, albuminuria, and foetal growth restriction. Moreover, Cd-injected rats displayed abnormal placental angiogenesis and lower progesterone (P4) levels. We further demonstrated that Cd also inhibited the mRNA and protein expressions of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A1), and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (3β-HSD1), which are involved in P4 synthesis in the rat placenta. Our study demonstrates that maternal Cd exposure disrupts the local synthesis of P4 in the placenta, which contributes to the onset of PE in pregnant rats. Supplementing P4 at the early gestational stage may be a promising therapeutic strategy to prevent PE, which requires further investigation.


P450 Cholesterol Side-chain Cleavage Enzyme Cytochrome P450 Cholesterol Side-chain Cleavage Maternal Systolic Blood Pressures Early Gestational Stage P4 Synthesis Foetal Growth Restriction Preeclampsia Lower Progesterone 3β-hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Cadmium Chloride

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No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. The conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretatio...

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