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The placenta is central to foetal growth and development in mammalian pregnancy. Compromised placental function (as found in pre-eclampsia) often results in life-threatening situations for both mother and foetus. The nitric-oxide (NO) signalling cascade is important for placental function, in particular for the development of the vascular network and for maintaining vascular tone. This pathway seems to be regulated by multiple hormonal signals. Emerging evidence suggests that pathogenic mechanisms that are involved in abnormal placental function target specific molecules, such as hormone receptors, that regulate NO release and have subsequent dramatic consequences. Here, we discuss the current knowledge of NO function in the placenta, its hormonal regulation in normal pregnancy and in the pathophysiology of pre-eclampsia, its potential pathogenic mechanisms and possible use as a therapeutic target.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Mol Med

Publication Date





223 - 233


Animals, Female, Hormones, Humans, Nitric Oxide, Nitric Oxide Synthase, Placenta, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy