• Extracellular matrix;
  • invasion;
  • vascular smooth muscle

PROBLEM: Normal placentation requires modulation of proliferative cytotrophoblast to an invasive phenotype. Preeclampsia is characterized by failed cytotrophoblast invasion and arterial remodeling. Osteopontin (OPN) is an extracellular matrix protein implicated in cell adhesion, spreading, and invasion.

METHOD OF STUDY: To investigate gestational age-related OPN expression, placental immunostaining was performed. To investigate the role of OPN in uteroplacental vascular pathology, placental immunostaining from pregnancies with preeclampsia (n = 12), fetal growth retardation (FGR) (n = 8), or both (n = 4) was compared with gestational age-matched controls (n = 24).

RESULTS: In non-preeclamptic pregnancies, OPN immunolocalized to basal plate and intervillous cytotrophoblasts from 24–30 weeks (n = 13). In preeclampsia, OPN immunoreactivity was detected from 24–40 weeks. Cytotrophoblasts from FGR placentas were OPN-positive until 30 weeks, unless preeclampsia accompanied the FGR. In this case, cytotrophoblasts were OPN-positive from 24–40 weeks.

CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest a role for OPN in cytotrophoblast invasion of the maternal vasculature/extracellular matrix during non-preeclamptic placentation, and OPN may serve as a marker for placental bed remodeling.