Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Offspring of hypertensive pregnancies are at increased risk of developing hypertension in adulthood. In the neonatal period they display endothelial cell dysfunction and altered microvascular development. MicroRNAs, as important endothelial cellular regulators, may play a role in this early endothelial dysfunction. Therefore we identified differential microRNA patterns in endothelial cells from offspring of hypertensive pregnancies and determined their role in postnatal vascular cell function. Studies were performed on human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVECs) samples from 57 pregnancies. Unbiased RNA-sequencing identified 30 endothelial-related microRNAs differentially expressed in HUVECs from hypertensive compared to normotensive pregnancies. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) confirmed a significant higher expression level of the top candidate, miR-146a. Combined miR-146a targeted gene expression and pathway analysis revealed significant alterations in genes involved in inflammation, angiogenesis and immune response in the same HUVECs. Elevated miR-146a expression level at birth identified cells with reduced ability for in vitro vascular tube formation, which was rescued by miR-146a inhibition. In contrast, miR-146a overexpression significantly reduced vascular tube formation in HUVECs from normotensive pregnancies. Finally, we confirmed that mir146a levels at birth predicted in vivo microvascular development during the first three postnatal months. Offspring of hypertensive pregnancy have a distinct endothelial regulatory microRNA profile at birth, which is related to altered endothelial cell behaviour, and predicts patterns of microvascular development during the first three months of life. Modification of this microRNA profile in vitro can restore impaired vascular cell function.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





937 - 945


Hypertensive pregnancy, microRNAs, postnatal vasculogenesis, Adult, Blood Vessels, Correlation of Data, Endothelium, Vascular, Female, Gene Expression Profiling, Humans, Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced, Infant, Newborn, Male, MicroRNAs, Microvessels, Neovascularization, Physiologic, Pregnancy, Umbilical Veins, United Kingdom