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1.  Circulating and Placental Growth-Differentiation Factor 15 in Preeclampsia and in Pregnancy Complicated by Diabetes Mellitus 
Hypertension  2009;54(1):106-112.
Growth-differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15), a stress-responsive transforming growth factor-β–related cytokine, is emerging as a new risk marker in patients with cardiovascular disease. We explored GDF-15 in preeclampsia and in diabetic pregnancies, because these conditions are associated with augmented risk for cardiovascular disease, both in mother and in offspring. Plasma from pregnant women (n=267; controls: n=59, preeclampsia: n=85, diabetes mellitus: n=112, and superimposed preeclampsia in diabetes mellitus: n=11), fetal plasma (n=72), and amniotic fluid (n=99) were analyzed by immunoassay for GDF-15. Placental GDF-15 mRNA and protein expression levels were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR and immunoblots in 78 and 18 pregnancies, respectively. Conditioned media from preeclamptic (n=6) and control (n=6) villous placenta explants were analyzed by immunoassay for GDF-15. Median maternal GDF-15 concentration was elevated in those with diabetes mellitus, as compared with controls (91 549 versus 79 875 ng/L; P=0.02). Median GDF-15 concentration was higher in patients with preeclampsia than in controls in term maternal blood samples (127 061 versus 80 319 ng/L; P<0.001). In the fetal circulation and amniotic fluid, GDF-15 was elevated in preeclampsia and superimposed preeclampsia in diabetes mellitus, as compared with controls. GDF-15 placental mRNA expression was elevated in preeclampsia, as compared with controls (P=0.002). Placenta immunoblots confirmed a single GDF-15 protein band, and a time-dependent increase in GDF-15 protein was detected in the conditioned media. Our study is the first to show that GDF-15 is dysregulated, both in preeclampsia and in diabetic pregnancies. The mechanisms and diagnostic implications of these findings remain to be explored.
PMCID: PMC4167791  PMID: 19470878
cardiovascular disease; growth differentiation factor 15; preeclampsia; diabetes mellitus; pregnancy
2.  Correction: POLD2 and KSP37 (FGFBP2) Correlate Strongly with Histology, Stage and Outcome in Ovarian Carcinomas 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):10.1371/annotation/a9e87423-6f0f-4a0b-be01-7125f0a41109.
PMCID: PMC2982989
3.  Hypertension after preeclampsia and relation to the C1114G polymorphism (rs4606) in RGS2: data from the Norwegian HUNT2 study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:28.
Preeclampsia is associated with an increased risk of hypertension later in life. The regulator of G protein signaling 2 negatively regulates several vasoconstrictors. We recently demonstrated an association between preeclampsia and the CG or GG genotype of the C1114G polymorphism (rs4606) of the regulator of G protein signaling 2 gene. Here, we examined the polymorphism with respect to the development of hypertension after pregnancy.
We genotyped 934 women on average 15.1 years after preeclampsia and 2011 age matched women with previous normotensive pregnancy. All women in this study were retrospectively recruited from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT2). Information from HUNT2 was linked to the Medical Birth Registry of Norway to identify women with a history of preeclampsia and women without a history of preeclampsia.
No significant association was found between hypertension (blood pressure ≥140/90 mmHg and/or taking antihypertensive drugs) and the polymorphism in crude analysis (OR (95% CI): CG genotype: 1.07 (0.90-1.27); GG genotype: 1.23 (0.90-1.67)). However, in a minimally adjusted model (age and BMI adjusted), a significant association between the GG genotype and hypertension was found (OR (95% CI): 1.49 (1.05-2.11)). This association remained significant also after adjustment for a history of preeclampsia (OR (95% CI): 1.46 (1.02-2.09)), but not in a model adjusted for multiple other variables (OR (95% CI): 1.26 (0.82-1.94)). In multivariate, but not in crude, analysis, the GG genotype of rs4606 (OR (95% CI): 1.93 (1.05-3.53)) was significantly and independently associated with severe hypertension later in life, defined as systolic blood pressure ≥160 mmHg (stage 2 hypertension) and/or taking antihypertensive drugs. A significant association was also found for the merged CG and GG genotypes (OR (95% CI): 1.43 (1.02-2.00)). Moreover, an interaction with physical activity was found. A history of preeclampsia was a significant and independent predictor of either definition of hypertension, both in crude and adjusted analyses.
Women carrying the rs4606 CG or GG genotype are at elevated risk for developing hypertension after delivery. Physical activity may interact with the association. Preeclampsia remains an independent risk factor for subsequent hypertension after adjusting for this polymorphism and classical CVD risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3973870  PMID: 24593135
Preeclampsia; Hypertension; Polymorphism; G proteins; RGS2; Angiotensin II
4.  Global miRNA expression analysis of serous and clear cell ovarian carcinomas identifies differentially expressed miRNAs including miR-200c-3p as a prognostic marker 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:80.
Improved insight into the molecular characteristics of the different ovarian cancer subgroups is needed for developing a more individualized and optimized treatment regimen. The aim of this study was to a) identify differentially expressed miRNAs in high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSC), clear cell ovarian carcinoma (CCC) and ovarian surface epithelium (OSE), b) evaluate selected miRNAs for association with clinical parameters including survival and c) map miRNA-mRNA interactions.
Differences in miRNA expression between HGSC, CCC and OSE were analyzed by global miRNA expression profiling (Affymetrix GeneChip miRNA 2.0 Arrays, n = 12, 9 and 9, respectively), validated by RT-qPCR (n = 35, 19 and 9, respectively), and evaluated for associations with clinical parameters. For HGSC, differentially expressed miRNAs were linked to differentially expressed mRNAs identified previously.
Differentially expressed miRNAs (n = 78) between HGSC, CCC and OSE were identified (FDR < 0.01%), of which 18 were validated (p < 0.01) using RT-qPCR in an extended cohort. Compared with OSE, miR-205-5p was the most overexpressed miRNA in HGSC. miR-200 family members and miR-182-5p were the most overexpressed in HGSC and CCC compared with OSE, whereas miR-383 was the most underexpressed. miR-205-5p and miR-200 members target epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) regulators, apparently being important in tumor progression. miR-509-3-5p, miR-509-5p, miR-509-3p and miR-510 were among the strongest differentiators between HGSC and CCC, all being significantly overexpressed in CCC compared with HGSC. High miR-200c-3p expression was associated with poor progression-free (p = 0.031) and overall (p = 0.026) survival in HGSC patients. Interacting miRNA and mRNA targets, including those of a TP53-related pathway presented previously, were identified in HGSC.
Several miRNAs differentially expressed between HGSC, CCC and OSE have been identified, suggesting a carcinogenetic role for these miRNAs. miR-200 family members, targeting EMT drivers, were mostly overexpressed in both subgroups, among which miR-200c-3p was associated with survival in HGSC patients. A set of miRNAs differentiates CCC from HGSC, of which miR-509-3-5p and miR-509-5p are the strongest classifiers. Several interactions between miRNAs and mRNAs in HGSC were mapped.
PMCID: PMC3928323  PMID: 24512620
Ovarian carcinoma; MicroRNA; Microarray; Quantitative PCR; Survival
5.  CYP2J2 Expression and Circulating Epoxyeicosatrienoic Metabolites in Preeclampsia 
Circulation  2012;126(25):2990-2999.
Preeclampsia is a multisystem disorder of pregnancy, originating in the placenta. Cytochrome P450 (CYP)-dependent eicosanoids regulate vascular function, inflammation, and angiogenesis that are mechanistically important in preeclampsia.
Methods and Results
We performed microarray screening of placenta and decidua (maternal placenta) from 25 preeclamptic women and 23 controls. The CYP subfamily 2J polypeptide 2 (CYP2J2) was upregulated in preeclamptic placenta and decidua. RT-PCR confirmed the upregulation and immunohistochemistry localized CYP2J2 in trophoblastic villi and deciduas at 12 weeks and term. The CYP2J2 metabolites, 5,6-epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EET), 14,15-EET, and the corresponding dihydroxyeicosatrienoic acids (DHET), were elevated in preeclamptic women compared to controls in the latter two-thirds of pregnancy and after delivery. Stimulating a trophoblast-derived cell line with the preeclampsia-associated cytokine, tumor necrosis factor-α, enhanced CYP2J2 gene and protein expression. In two independent rat models of preeclampsia, reduced uterine-perfusion rat and the transgenic Ang II rat, we observed elevated EET, DHET, and preeclamptic features that were ameliorated by the CYP epoxygenase inhibitor, MsPPOH. Uterine arterial rings of these rats also dilated in response to MsPPOH. Furthermore, 5,6-EET could be metabolized to a thromboxane analog. In a bioassay, 5,6-EET increased the beating rate of neonatal cardiomyocytes. Blocking thromboxane synthesis reversed that finding and also normalized large-conductance calcium-activated potassium channel (KCa1.1) activity.
Our data implicate CYP2J2 in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia and as a potential candidate for the disturbed uteroplacental remodeling, leading to hypertension and endothelial dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3543781  PMID: 23155181
Hypertension; Pregnancy; Preeclampsia; Cytochrome P450
6.  Prevalence and Risk Indicators for Anal Incontinence among Pregnant Women 
ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology  2013;2013:947572.
The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and risk factors of anal incontinence in an unselected pregnant population at second trimester. A survey of pregnant women attending a routine ultrasound examination was conducted in a university hospital in Oslo, Norway. A questionnaire consisting of 105 items concerning anal incontinence (including St. Mark's score), urinary incontinence, medication use, and comorbidity was posted to women when invited to the ultrasound examination. Results. Prevalence of self-reported anal incontinence (St. Mark's score ≥ 3) was the lowest in the group of women with a previous cesarean section only (6.4%) and the highest among women with a previous delivery complicated by obstetric anal sphincter injury (24.4%). Among nulliparous women the prevalence of anal incontinence was 7.7% and was associated to low educational level and comorbidity. Prevalence of anal incontinence increased with increasing parity. Urinary incontinence was associated with anal incontinence in all parity groups. Conclusions. Anal incontinence was most frequent among women with a history of obstetric anal sphincter injury. Other obstetrical events had a minor effect on prevalence of anal incontinence among parous women. Prevention of obstetrical sphincter injury is likely the most important factor for reducing bothersome anal incontinence among fertile women.
PMCID: PMC3681258  PMID: 23819058
7.  Incidence of obstetric anal sphincter injuries after training to protect the perineum: cohort study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001649.
To compare the incidence of obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASIS) in two time periods, before and after implementing a training programme for improved perineal support aimed at reducing the incidence of obstetric anal sphincter injuries. The secondary aim was to study incidence of obstetric anal sphincter injuries in subgroups defined by risk factors for OASIS.
Population-based cohort study.
University hospital setting in Oslo, Norway.
Two cohorts of all delivering women in the largest hospital in Norway during two time periods (2003–2005 and 2008–2010) were studied. After excluding caesarean sections and preterm deliveries (< week 32), the study population consisted of 31 709 deliveries, among which 907 women were identified with obstetric anal sphincter injury.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Incidence of OASIS in two time periods. Maternal, obstetrical and foetal risk factors for OASIS were collected from the hospital obstetric database. Univariate analyses and multivariate logistic regression analyses, presenting adjusted ODs for OASIS, were performed.
The OASIS incidence was significantly reduced by 50%, from 4% (591/14787) in the first time period to 1.9% (316/16 922) in the second. This reduction could not be explained by changes in population characteristics or OASIS risk factors during the study years. The reduction of incidence of OASIS between the two study periods was consistent across subgroups of women; regardless of parity, delivery method and infant birth weight.
A marked reduction in the incidence of OASIS was observed in all studied subgroups of women after implementing the training programme for perineal protection. Further, this reduction could not be explained by the differences in patient characteristics across the study period. These findings indicate that the training programme with improved perineal protection markedly reduced the risk of OASIS.
PMCID: PMC3488722  PMID: 23075573
Education & Training (see Medical Education & Training); Medical Education & Training; obstetric anal sphincter injury; delivery
8.  Maternal Angiogenic Profile in Pregnancies that Remain Normotensive 
We sought to determine if maternal characteristics are associated with angiogenic profile in the first and second trimester of normotensive pregnancies.
Study Design
Circulating levels of maternal placental like growth factor (PlGF), soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase receptor (sFlt1), and soluble endoglin (sEng) were measured in serum samples collected during the first (median 11.3 weeks) and second trimester (median 17.1 weeks) of 182 normotensive pregnancies. Diastolic blood pressure (DBP), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and mean arterial pressure (MAP) were measured at the same visits when samples were collected to measure angiogenic factors. Linear regression analysis was used to examine associations of the angiogenic measures with maternal characteristics. The association between blood pressure measures and concentrations of angiogenic factors was evaluated using Spearman correlation and linear regression analysis.
In adjusted analyses, nulliparous women had higher sFlt1 concentrations in both first (P=0.06) and second (P=0.001) trimester. Higher BMI was associated with greater sFlt1 concentrations in both the first (P=0.004) and second trimester (P=0.008), but significantly lower sEng concentrations in both trimesters (P=0.002 for first trimester and P=0.0009 for second). Nulliparity and higher BMI also were associated with higher sFlt1/PLGF anti-angiogenic ratios in both first (p=0.05 and p=0.007, respectively) and second trimesters (p=0.003 and p=0.02, respectively). First trimester sFlt1 levels were weakly correlated with first trimester SBP (rs=0.18, p=0.03) and MAP (rs=0.16, p=0.04). Second trimester sEng levels were inversely associated with second trimester MAP (rs= −0.17, p=0.05). Including blood pressure measures in the linear regression models did not change the reported associations of angiogenic factors with maternal characteristics.
These results demonstrate that even early in normotensive pregnancies maternal characteristics are associated with variations in angiogenic profile across this population.
PMCID: PMC3302581  PMID: 21641103
Pregnancy; angiogenic factors; sFlt1; PlGF; soluble endoglin; maternal
9.  ZNF385B and VEGFA Are Strongly Differentially Expressed in Serous Ovarian Carcinomas and Correlate with Survival 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46317.
The oncogenesis of ovarian cancer is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to identify mRNAs differentially expressed between moderately and poorly differentiated (MD/PD) serous ovarian carcinomas (SC), serous ovarian borderline tumours (SBOT) and superficial scrapings from normal ovaries (SNO), and to correlate these mRNAs with clinical parameters including survival.
Differences in mRNA expression between MD/PD SC, SBOT and SNO were analyzed by global gene expression profiling (n = 23), validated by RT-qPCR (n = 41) and correlated with clinical parameters.
Thirty mRNAs differentially expressed between MD/PD SC, SBOT and SNO were selected from the global gene expression analyses, and 21 were verified (p<0.01) by RT-qPCR. Of these, 13 mRNAs were differentially expressed in MD/PD SC compared with SNO (p<0.01) and were correlated with clinical parameters. ZNF385B was downregulated (FC = −130.5, p = 1.2×10−7) and correlated with overall survival (p = 0.03). VEGFA was upregulated (FC = 6.1, p = 6.0×10−6) and correlated with progression-free survival (p = 0.037). Increased levels of TPX2 and FOXM1 mRNAs (FC = 28.5, p = 2.7×10−10 and FC = 46.2, p = 5.6×10−4, respectively) correlated with normalization of CA125 (p = 0.03 and p = 0.044, respectively). Furthermore, we present a molecular pathway for MD/PD SC, including VEGFA, FOXM1, TPX2, BIRC5 and TOP2A, all significantly upregulated and directly interacting with TP53.
We have identified 21 mRNAs differentially expressed (p<0.01) between MD/PD SC, SBOT and SNO. Thirteen were differentially expressed in MD/PD SC, including ZNF385B and VEGFA correlating with survival, and FOXM1 and TPX2 with normalization of CA125. We also present a molecular pathway for MD/PD SC.
PMCID: PMC3460818  PMID: 23029477
10.  Endoglin (CD105) expression in ovarian serous carcinoma effusions is related to chemotherapy status 
Tumour Biology  2011;32(3):589-596.
Endoglin (CD105), a cell surface co-receptor for transforming growth factor-β, is expressed in proliferating endothelial cells, as well as in cancer cells. We studied endoglin expression and its clinical relevance in effusions, primary tumors, and solid metastatic lesions from women with advanced-stage ovarian serous carcinoma. Endoglin expression was analyzed by immunohistochemistry in effusions (n = 211; 174 peritoneal, 37 pleural). Cellular endoglin staining was analyzed for association with the concentration of soluble endoglin (previously determined by ELISA) in 95 corresponding effusions and analyzed for correlation with clinicopathologic parameters, including survival. Endoglin expression was additionally studied in 34 patient-matched primary tumors and solid metastases. Carcinoma and mesothelial cells expressed endoglin in 95/211 (45%) and 133/211 (63%) effusions, respectively. Carcinoma cell endoglin expression was more frequent in effusions from patients aged ≤60 years (p = 0.048) and in post- compared to prechemotherapy effusions (p = 0.014), whereas mesothelial cell endoglin expression was higher in prechemotherapy effusions (p = 0.021). No association was found between cellular endoglin expression and its soluble effusion concentration. Endoglin was expressed in 17/34 (50%) primary tumors and 19/34 (56%) metastases, with significantly higher percentage of immunostained cells in solid metastases compared to effusions (p = 0.036). Endoglin expression did not correlate with survival. Tumor cell endoglin expression is higher in post- vs. prechemotherapy effusions, whereas the opposite is seen in mesothelial cells. Together with its upregulation in solid metastases, this suggests that the expression and biological role of endoglin may differ between cell populations and change along tumor progression in ovarian carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3093541  PMID: 21350924
Endoglin; Ovarian carcinoma; Malignant effusions; Biomarker; Chemotherapy; Disease progression
11.  POLD2 and KSP37 (FGFBP2) Correlate Strongly with Histology, Stage and Outcome in Ovarian Carcinomas 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13837.
Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) constitutes more than 90% of ovarian cancers and is associated with high mortality. EOC comprises a heterogeneous group of tumours, and the causes and molecular pathology are essentially unknown. Improved insight into the molecular characteristics of the different subgroups of EOC is urgently needed, and should eventually lead to earlier diagnosis as well as more individualized and effective treatments. Previously, we reported a limited number of mRNAs strongly upregulated in human osteosarcomas and other malignancies, and six were selected to be tested for a possible association with three subgroups of ovarian carcinomas and clinical parameters.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The six selected mRNAs were quantified by RT-qPCR in biopsies from eleven poorly differentiated serous carcinomas (PDSC, stage III–IV), twelve moderately differentiated serous carcinomas (MDSC, stage III–IV) and eight clear cell carcinomas (CCC, stage I–IV) of the ovary. Superficial scrapings from six normal ovaries (SNO), as well as biopsies from three normal ovaries (BNO) and three benign ovarian cysts (BBOC) were analyzed for comparison. The gene expression level was related to the histological and clinical parameters of human ovarian carcinoma samples. One of the mRNAs, DNA polymerase delta 2 small subunit (POLD2), was increased in average 2.5- to almost 20-fold in MDSC and PDSC, respectively, paralleling the degree of dedifferentiation and concordant with a poor prognosis. Except for POLD2, the serous carcinomas showed a similar transcription profile, being clearly different from CCC. Another mRNA, Killer-specific secretory protein of 37 kDa (KSP37) showed six- to eight-fold higher levels in CCC stage I compared with the more advanced staged carcinomas, and correlated positively with an improved clinical outcome.
We have identified two biomarkers which are markedly upregulated in two subgroups of ovarian carcinomas and are also associated with stage and outcome. The results suggest that POLD2 and KSP37 might be potential prognostic biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC2973954  PMID: 21079801
12.  Blood pressure augmentation and maternal circulating concentrations of angiogenic factors at delivery in preeclamptic and uncomplicated pregnancies 
The objective of the study was to determine whether blood pressure increases are associated with maternal angiogenic factors in uncomplicated and preeclamptic pregnancies.
Study Design
Associations of blood pressure increases from mid- to late pregnancy with maternal serum concentrations of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase receptor (sFlt1), soluble endoglin (sEng), and placental growth factor (PlGF) at delivery were analyzed in 43 uncomplicated and 44 preeclamptic pregnancies.
In uncomplicated pregnancies, increases in diastolic and mean arterial pressure were inversely associated with PlGF at delivery and positively associated with sEng and sFlt1/PlGF ratio. There were no significant associations between blood pressure increases and angiogenic factor concentrations in preeclampsia.
These data suggest that angiogenic factors are involved in blood pressure modulation in normotensive pregnancy and are consistent with the hypothesis that angiogenic balance plays a role in maternal breast cancer risk reduction associated with mid- to late blood pressure increases in uncomplicated pregnancies.
PMCID: PMC2646178  PMID: 18722574
angiogenic factors; blood pressure; breast cancer; preeclampsia; pregnancy
13.  Hypoxia Induces Dilated Cardiomyopathy in the Chick Embryo: Mechanism, Intervention, and Long-Term Consequences 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5155.
Intrauterine growth restriction is associated with an increased future risk for developing cardiovascular diseases. Hypoxia in utero is a common clinical cause of fetal growth restriction. We have previously shown that chronic hypoxia alters cardiovascular development in chick embryos. The aim of this study was to further characterize cardiac disease in hypoxic chick embryos.
Chick embryos were exposed to hypoxia and cardiac structure was examined by histological methods one day prior to hatching (E20) and at adulthood. Cardiac function was assessed in vivo by echocardiography and ex vivo by contractility measurements in isolated heart muscle bundles and isolated cardiomyocytes. Chick embryos were exposed to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its scavenger soluble VEGF receptor-1 (sFlt-1) to investigate the potential role of this hypoxia-regulated cytokine.
Principal Findings
Growth restricted hypoxic chick embryos showed cardiomyopathy as evidenced by left ventricular (LV) dilatation, reduced ventricular wall mass and increased apoptosis. Hypoxic hearts displayed pump dysfunction with decreased LV ejection fractions, accompanied by signs of diastolic dysfunction. Cardiomyopathy caused by hypoxia persisted into adulthood. Hypoxic embryonic hearts showed increases in VEGF expression. Systemic administration of rhVEGF165 to normoxic chick embryos resulted in LV dilatation and a dose-dependent loss of LV wall mass. Lowering VEGF levels in hypoxic embryonic chick hearts by systemic administration of sFlt-1 yielded an almost complete normalization of the phenotype.
Our data show that hypoxia causes a decreased cardiac performance and cardiomyopathy in chick embryos, involving a significant VEGF-mediated component. This cardiomyopathy persists into adulthood.
PMCID: PMC2663815  PMID: 19357774

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