Decreased expression of pigment epithelium derived factor (PEDF), an inhibitor of angiogenesis, in placentas of unexplained stillbirths

Beth A. Plunkett, Philip Fitchev, Jennifer A. Doll, Susan E. Gerber, Mona Cornwell, Emily P. Greenstein, Susan E. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Normal placental vascular development depends upon the complex interactions between angiogenic inducers and inhibitors within the placenta. Alterations within the placental microenvironment can promote an imbalance in angiogenic mediators which may be associated with adverse perinatal outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate the placentas of infants with unexplained stillbirth as compared to live-born infants and to determine whether alterations in angiogenic inducer vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) or inhibitor pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) are associated with altered angiogenesis, vascular remodeling and stillbirth. Placentas of 22 unexplained stillbirths and 44 age-matched live-born controls were scored for microvascular density (MVD), vasculopathy and microvascular permeability. A subset was scored for expression of angiogenic inducer VEGF and inhibitor pigment epithelium-derived factor. Stillborn placentas demonstrated higher MVD than controls (mean±SD: 116.6±46.3 v. 60.8±13.5, respectively, p<0.001). Vasculopathy was present in 10/22 (45%) stillbirths compared to 0/44 (0%) controls (p<0.001); increased vascular permeability was present in 15/22 (68%) cases and 5/44 (11%) controls (p<0.001). PEDF expression was significantly lower in stillborn placentas (1.7±0.3) than live-born controls (3.6±0.8, p<0.01) while VEGF expression was similar (3.3±0.7 v. 3.7±0.4, respectively, p>0.05). In conclusion, we found that unexplained stillbirth is associated with loss of angiogenic inhibitor PEDF, vasculopathy and heightened angiogenesis in the placenta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
JournalReproductive Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Angiogenesis
  • PEDF
  • Placenta
  • Stillbirth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology
  • Developmental Biology

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