Defense Date

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Physiology

First Advisor

Scott Walsh

Abstract

DNA methylation is the most recognizable epigenetic mechanism. In general, DNA hypomethylation is associated with increased gene expression whereas DNA hypermethylation is associated with decreased gene expression. To date, little is known about the role of DNA methylation in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia. In this study, we examined the differences in DNA methylation in omental arteries of normal pregnant and preeclamptic women using the high throughput Illumina HumanMethylation27 BeadChip assay. We found 1,685 genes with a significant difference in DNA methylation at a false discovery rate of < 10% with many inflammatory genes having reduced methylation. The thromboxane synthase gene was the most hypomethylated gene in preeclamptic women as compared to normal pregnant women. When we examined the expression of thromboxane synthase in omental arteries of normal pregnant and preeclamptic women we found it to be significantly increased in preeclamptic women. The increased expression was observed in vascular smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells and infiltrating neutrophils. Experimentally induced DNA hypomethylation increased the expression of thromboxane synthase in the neutrophil-like HL-60 cell line, whereas tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), a neutrophil product, increased its expression in cultured human vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC). These finding suggest that DNA methylation and release of TNFα by infiltrating neutrophils could contribute to the increased expression of thromboxane synthase in systemic blood vessels of preeclamptic women, contributing to the hypertension and coagulation abnormalities. We also explored the possible contribution of DNA methylation to the altered expression of genes involved in collagen metabolism in preeclampsia. Several matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) genes, including MMP1 and MMP8, were significantly less methylated in preeclamptic women, whereas TIMP and COL genes were either significantly more methylated or had no significant change in their DNA methylation status. Experimentally induced DNA hypomethylation increased the expression of MMP-1, but not TIMP-1 or COL1A1, in cultured VSMCs and increased the expression of MMP-1 and MMP-8 in HL-60 cells. These findings suggest that DNA methylation contributes to the imbalance in genes involved in collagen metabolism in blood vessels of preeclamptic women.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

January 2012

Included in

Physiology Commons

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