The concept that oxidative stress contributes to the development of human preeclampsia has never been tested in genetically-defined animal models. Homozygous deletion of catechol-Omethyl transferase (Comt-/-) in pregnant mice leads to human preeclampsia-like symptoms (high\ud blood pressure, albuminurea and preterm birth) resulting from extensive vasculo-endothelial pathology, primarily at the utero-fetal interface where maternal cardiac output is dramatically increased during pregnancy. Comt converts estradiol to 2-methoxyestradiol 2 (2ME2) which\ud counters angiogenesis by depleting hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha) at late pregnancy. We propose that in wild type (Comt++) pregnant mice, 2ME2 destabilizes HIF-1 alpha by inhibiting mitochondrial superoxide dismutase (MnSOD). Thus, 2ME2 acts as a pro-oxidant, disrupting\ud redox-regulated signaling which blocks angiogenesis in wild type (WT) animals in physiological pregnancy. Further, we suggest that a lack of this inhibition under normoxic conditions in mutant animals (Comt-/-) stabilises HIF-1 alpha by inactivating prolyl hydroxlases (PHD). We predict that a lack of inhibition of MnSOD, leading to persistent accumulation of HIF-1 alpha, would trigger\ud inflammatory infiltration and endothelial damage in mutant animals. Critical tests of this hypothesis would be to recreate preeclampsia symptoms by inducing oxidative stress in WT animals or to ameliorate by treating mutant mice with Mn-SOD-catalase mimetics or activators of PHD
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