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Several studies have shown that women with a preeclamptic pregnancy exhibit an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are unknown. Animal models are essential to investigate the causes of this increased risk and have the ability to assess possible preventive and therapeutic interventions. Using the latest technologies such as speckle tracking echocardiography (STE), it is feasible to map subclinical changes in cardiac diastolic and systolic function as well as structural changes of the maternal heart. The aim of this work is to compare cardiovascular changes in an established transgenic rat model with preeclampsia-like pregnancies with findings from human preeclamptic pregnancies by STE. The same algorithms were used to evaluate and compare the changes in echoes of human and rodents. Parameters of functionality such as global longitudinal strain (animal −23.54 ± 1.82% vs. −13.79 ± 0.57%, human −20.60 ± 0.47% vs. −15.45 ± 1.55%) as well as indications of morphological changes such as relative wall thickness (animal 0.20 ± 0.01 vs. 0.25 ± 0.01, human 0.34 ± 0.01 vs. 0.40 ± 0.02) are significantly altered in both species after preeclamptic pregnancies. Thus, the described rat model simulates the human situation quite well and is a valuable tool for future investigations regarding cardiovascular changes. STE is a unique technique that can be applied in animal models and humans with a high potential to uncover cardiovascular maladaptation and subtle pathologies.

Original publication




Journal article


International Journal of Molecular Sciences



Publication Date





1162 - 1162