Preeclampsia (PE) is a pregnancy-specific syndrome, characterized in general by hypertension with proteinuria or other systemic disturbances. PE is the major cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality worldwide. However, the etiology of PE still remains unclear. Our study involved 38 patients: 14 with uncomplicated pregnancy; 13 with early-onset PE (eoPE); and 11 with late-onset PE (loPE). We characterized the immunophenotype of cells isolated from the placenta and all biopsy samples were stained positive for Cytokeratin 7, SOX2, Nestin, Vimentin, and CD44. We obtained a significant increase in OPA1 mRNA and protein expression in the eoPE placentas. Moreover, TFAM expression was down-regulated in comparison to the control (p < 0.01). Mitochondrial DNA copy number in eoPE placentas was significantly higher than in samples from normal pregnancies. We observed an increase of maximum coupled state 3 respiration rate in mitochondria isolated from the placenta in the presence of complex I substrates in the eoPE group and an increase of P/O ratio, citrate synthase activity and decrease of Ca 2+ -induced depolarization rate in both PE groups. Our results suggest an essential role of mitochondrial activity changes in an adaptive response to the development of PE.
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