© 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel. Introduction: Forty percent of Down syndrome (DS) fetuses have congenital heart defects (CHD). An abnormal angiogenic environment has been described in euploid fetuses with CHD. However, the underlying pathophysiologic pathway that contributes to CHD in DS remains unknown. The objective was to compare the expression of angiogenic factors and chronic hypoxia genes in heart tissue from DS and euploid fetuses with and without CHD. Methods: The gene expression profile was determined by real-time PCR quantification in heart tissue from 33 fetuses with DS, 23 euploid fetuses with CHD and 23 control fetuses. Results: Angiogenic factors mRNA expression was significantly increased in the DS group compared to the controls (soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1, 81%, p = 0.007; vascular endothelial growth factor A, 57%, p = 0.006, and placental growth factor, 32%, p = 0.0227). Significant increases in the transcript level of hypoxia-inducible factor-2α and heme oxygenase 1 were also observed in the DS group compared to the controls. The expression of angiogenic factors was similar in DS fetuses and CHD euploid fetuses with CHD. Conclusion: Abnormal angiogenesis was detected in the hearts of DS fetuses with and without CHD. Our results suggest that DS determines an intrinsically angiogenic impairment that may be present in the fetal heart.
- Congenital heart defects
- Down syndrome