Plasma prorenin levels are elevated in normal pregnant women. Current evidence suggests renin production by tissues of the uteroplacental unit contribute to this elevation. The purpose of this investigation was to define the source of renin biosynthesis within the human uteroplacental unit and to characterize the renin produced. RNA extraction and Northern blot analysis consistently demonstrated renin mRNA expression in uterine lining both in the pregnant (decidua) and nonpregnant states (endometrium) and in fetal chorion laeve, which is inseparable from the decidua. In contrast, renin mRNA expression was not detected in basal plate and intertwin chorion (which is separate from decidua), amnion, myometrium, or placental villi. The total renin content in decidual homogenates was two- to threefold greater than in endometrial homogenates, and cultured human decidual cells produced significantly more total renin than cultured human endometrial cells, suggesting that pregnancy enhanced renin production by the cells lining the uterus. Immunoblot analysis and [3H]leucine incorporation identified 47,000-mol wt prorenin as the major form of renin produced by cultured human decidual cells. These studies indicate that maternal decidua is the major source of prorenin in the uteroplacental unit.
K J Shaw, Y S Do, S Kjos, P W Anderson, T Shinagawa, L Dubeau, W A Hsueh