A comparative-analysis of glycosaminoglycans from human umbilical arteries in normal subjects and in pathological conditions affecting pregnancy
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BACKGROUND: Vascular cells express different phenotypes in adult and fetal vessels, and the extracellular matrix they synthesize should reflect these differences. Alterations of vascular proteoglycan/glycosaminoglycan is verified in disorders such as hypertension and diabetes, and when occurring during pregnancy, they bring about structural changes to fetal vessels that often lead to impaired fetus growth. Yet there is little data about the extracellular matrix of an important human fetal vessel, the umbilical artery.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: This study involved the biochemical characterization of the extracellular matrix of normal umbilical arteries, umbilical arteries from complicated pregnancies (maternal hypertension and diabetes and intrauterine growth retardation syndrome), and, for purpose of comparison, normal adult arteries (aorta and iliac and pulmonary arteries). Although the collagen types I:III ratio was determined in some cases, emphasis was placed on analysis of glycosaminoglycans.RESULTS: Normal umbilical arteries differ from normal adult arteries in that they contain greater concentrations of hyaluronic acid and lesser concentrations of heparan sulfate and chondroitin 4-and 6-sulfate. The umbilical artery also differs from adult arteries in the disaccharide composition of its chondroitin and heparan sulfates and in the molecular weight of this latter glycosaminoglycan. The glycosaminoglycan distribution in umbilical arteries derived from complicated pregnancies is roughly similar to that of controls. However, total glycosaminoglycan and collagen were significantly reduced, and the collagen I:III ratio was increased in the umbilical arteries from hypertension-complicated pregnancies.CONCLUSIONS: the glycosaminoglycan composition of the normal umbilical artery, a fully differentiated tissue, differs in many aspects from that of normal adult arteries. of the cases of complicated pregnancies studied, the extracellular matrix of umbilical arteries was altered only in maternal hypertension. The changes, notably a mild fibrosis, were not very pronounced and should not impair hemodynamic properties of the vessel.