American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology

Chronic hyperleptinemia results in the development of hypertension in pregnant rats.

PMID 25761697


Despite the fact that obesity is a major risk factor for preeclampsia (PE), the pathophysiological mechanisms whereby obesity and metabolic factors such as leptin increase this risk are unclear. While human data have shown that hyperleptinemia is associated with PE, the long-term effect of hyperleptinemia on blood pressure during pregnancy is unknown. Thus we tested the hypothesis whether chronic circulating leptin elevations in pregnant rats increase blood pressure and placental factors known to play a role in PE. On gestational day (GD)14, rats were assigned to the normal pregnant group with food intake ad libitum (control), leptin-treated (0.5 μg·kg(-1)·min(-1) ip) pregnant group with food intake ad libitum (pregnant+LEP), and normal pregnant group with food intake adjusted to the food intake of pregnant+LEP rats (pregnant-FR). On GD19, mean arterial pressure (MAP) was assessed and tissues were collected. Serum leptin concentration was elevated in pregnant+LEP compared with control and pregnant-FR (18.0 ± 2.8 vs. 0.8 ± 0.1 vs. 0.3 ± 0.1 ng/ml; P < 0.05), which was associated with increased MAP (121.3 ± 8.1 vs. 102.4 ± 2.4 vs. 101.3 ± 1.8 mmHg; P < 0.05). Food intake and body weight were reduced in pregnant+LEP and pregnant-FR by the end of gestation. Additionally, placentas and fetuses of these groups were lighter than those of control. However, placental expression of tumor necrosis factor-α was significantly greater in pregnant+LEP compared with controls (1.6 ± 0.1 vs. 1.1 ± 0.1 pg/mg; P < 0.05). In conclusion, leptin increases blood pressure and placental tumor necrosis factor-α during pregnancy despite its effect of reducing food intake and body weight, and represents a mechanism whereby obesity can promote the development of hypertension in PE.