Spectral photoacoustic imaging to estimate in vivo placental oxygenation during preeclampsia

Dylan J. Lawrence, Megan E. Escott, Leann Myers, Suttira Intapad, Sarah H. Lindsey, Carolyn L. Bayer
Scientific Reports2019
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related hypertensive disorder accounting for 14% of global maternal deaths annually. Preeclampsia — maternal hypertension and proteinuria — is promoted by placental ischemia resulting from reduced uteroplacental perfusion. Here, we assess longitudinal changes in placental oxygenation during preeclampsia using spectral photoacoustic imaging. Spectral photoacoustic images were acquired of the placenta of normal pregnant (NP) and preeclamptic reduced uterine perfusion pressure (RUPP) Sprague Dawley rats on gestational days (GD) 14, 16, and 18, corresponding to mid- to late gestation (n = 10 per cohort). Two days after implementation of the RUPP surgical model, placental oxygen saturation decreased 12% in comparison with NP. Proteinuria was determined from a 24-hour urine collection prior to imaging on GD18. Blood pressure measurements were obtained on GD18 after imaging. Placental hypoxia in the RUPP was confirmed with histological staining for hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, a cellular transcription regulator which responds to local oxygen levels. Using in vivo, longitudinal imaging methods we determined that the placenta in the reduced uterine perfusion pressure rat model of preeclampsia is hypoxic, and that this hypoxia is maintained through late gestation. Future work will utilize these methods to assess the impact of novel therapeutics on placental ischemia and the progression of preeclampsia.

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