Project Updates

June 2018

Glycocalyx pathways linking pregnancy profile with microvascular dysfunction postpartum

CarlHubelPI: Carl A. Hubel, PhD
Center Director
Associate Professor
Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation
Department of Medicine


The Pathways Study team has recruited 300 participants at the time of labor and delivery (visit 1). Forty-two participants have completed the 1-year postpartum follow-up study visit (visit 2). Our goal is to recruit a total of 480 participants for visit 1 and to have 240 participants complete visit 2. Recruitment and analysis are ongoing.

magee magee-womens research institute university of pittsburgh pitt aha american heart association go red for women postdoctoral fellowship training program go red mwri james jim roberts cardiovascular pregnancy janet catov carl hubel rob powersmagee magee-womens research institute university of pittsburgh pitt aha american heart association go red for women postdoctoral fellowship training program go red mwri james jim roberts cardiovascular pregnancy janet catov carl hubel rob powers


September 2017

The influence of pregnancy on future vascular dysfunction and atherosclerosis
RobertPowers

PI: Robert W. Powers, PhD
Associate Professor
Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation
Department of Medicine


In the past year the Basic Science Project has been focused on addressing the scientific question: Does pregnancy itself (single or multiple) affect future maternal vascular health?

This question is based on human epidemiologic data that indicates the risk of future cardiovascular disease (CVD) is significantly higher among women with previous adverse pregnancy outcomes, and particularly preeclampsia. In contrast, data suggest that a single uncomplicated normotensive pregnancy may be protective of future CVD, and the increased risk of CVD among women with hypertension in pregnancy such as preeclampsia is driven primarily by shared common risk factors (high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) that precede pregnancy. However, paradoxically data also indicate that a history of multiple uncomplicated pregnancies (multiparity) alone is associated with an increased risk of future hypertension and CVD compared to women who were never pregnant.

In order to answer this question we have set up or completed long-term experiments involving breeding hypercholesterolemic female apoE-/- mice and wild-type C57B6J mice. To date we have found that compared to age matched never pregnant hypercholesterolemic mice, similar female mice that have had 1, 2 or 3 prior pregnancies tend to have higher body weights at 10 months of age (~50+ years of age compared to humans), which matches data from human studies. Hypercholesterolemic female mice that have had 3 previous pregnancies have significantly higher blood pressure compared to virgin female mice.

In addition, female mice with 2 or 3 previous pregnancies have significantly blunted endothelial-dependent vascular function compared to virgin mice. Therefore, these data suggest the biologic stress of multiple pregnancies can adversely affect future maternal vascular health. However, additional investigation is warranted to determine the biologic mechanisms by which these vascular changes are occurring, and importantly whether it is possible to prevent these vascular changes.