Syncytiotrophoblast extracellular vesicles (STBEVs), released into the maternal circulation during pregnancy, have been shown to affect vascular function; however, the mechanism remains unknown. In rats, STBEVs were shown to reduce endothelium-mediated vasodilation via lectin-like oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor-1 (LOX-1), a multi-ligand scavenger receptor that has been associated with vascular dysfunction. Recently, LOX-1 was shown to interact with the angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT-1). We hypothesized that, in pregnant mice, STBEVs would impair vascular function via LOX-1 and would specifically affect angiotensin II responses. Uterine arteries from pregnant control (C57BL/6) and LOX-1 knockout (LOX-1KO) mice were isolated on gestational day (GD) 18.5. Endothelium-dependent (methylcholine (MCh); ± N(G)-Nitro-L-arginine methyl ester to assess nitric oxide (NO) contribution), and -independent (sodium nitroprusside) vasodilation, and vasoconstriction (angiotensin II; ± AT-1 [candesartan] or angiotensin II type 2 receptor (AT-2) [PD123.319] receptor antagonists; high potassium salt solution) responses were assessed using wire myography. AT-1 and AT-2 expression was analyzed using fluorescence microscopy. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were stimulated with STBEVs ± LOX-1 blocking antibody, and superoxide and peroxynitrite production were analyzed. Although MCh-induced vasodilation was decreased (P=0.0012), NO contribution to vasodilation was greater in LOX-1KO mice (P=0.0055). STBEVs delayed angiotensin II tachyphylaxis in arteries from control but not LOX-1KO mice (P<0.0001), while AT-1 and AT-2 expression was unchanged. STBEVs increased peroxynitrite production in HUVECs via LOX-1 (P=0.0091). In summary, LOX-1 deletion altered endothelium-mediated vasodilation, suggesting that LOX-1 contributes to vascular adaptations in pregnancy. STBEVs increased angiotensin II responsiveness and oxidative stress levels via LOX-1, suggesting that increased LOX-1 expression/activation or STBEVs could adversely affect vascular function and contribute to vascular complications of pregnancy.

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