Histochemistry and Cell Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 6, pp 415–422 | Cite as

Nitric oxide synthase and VEGF expression in full-term placentas of obese women

  • Eleonora SalvoliniEmail author
  • Arianna Vignini
  • Jacopo Sabbatinelli
  • Guendalina Lucarini
  • Veronica Pompei
  • Davide Sartini
  • Anna Maria Cester
  • Andrea Ciavattini
  • Laura Mazzanti
  • Monica Emanuelli
Original Paper


An adequate placental vascularization allows the proper development of the fetus and it is crucial for the gestational success. A number of factors regulate angiogenesis, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which induces the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), a potent vasodilator produced by three different nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms. NO is essential to maintain a low vascular resistance in the fetoplacental circulation, although at high concentrations, it may combine with excess superoxide to produce peroxynitrite, which reacts with proteins giving rise to nitrotyrosine. Since obesity, whose incidence is increasing worldwide, is characterized by a low-grade inflammatory state and increased levels of oxidative and nitrative stress, both affecting placental function, our aim was to evaluate the expression of VEGF, eNOS, and iNOS in full-term placentas obtained from normal weight and pre-pregnancy obese women by means of immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR. Moreover, we assessed the NO levels and the nitrotyrosine immunoexpression in the same sample groups. Our results show a significantly higher immunohistochemical expression of VEGF and eNOS in the endothelium of placentas from obese women than in controls, whereas the immunoexpression of iNOS was comparable in the two groups. These data agree with those of the gene expression analysis, thus suggesting the possible existence of a compensatory mechanism for changes in placental blood flow associated with obesity. As concerns nitrotyrosine and NO levels, we observed a significant increase in placental tissue from obese women which may contribute to the development of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases both in the mother and the offspring.


Nitric oxide synthase Nitrotyrosine Obese women Placenta Vascular endothelial growth factor 



The present work was supported by RSA Grants from Università Politecnica delle Marche.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eleonora Salvolini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arianna Vignini
    • 1
  • Jacopo Sabbatinelli
    • 1
  • Guendalina Lucarini
    • 2
  • Veronica Pompei
    • 1
  • Davide Sartini
    • 1
  • Anna Maria Cester
    • 1
  • Andrea Ciavattini
    • 1
  • Laura Mazzanti
    • 1
  • Monica Emanuelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical SciencesUniversità Politecnica delle MarcheAnconaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Clinical and Molecular SciencesUniversità Politecnica delle MarcheAnconaItaly

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