A mitochondrial regulator protein, MNRR1, is elevated in the maternal blood of women with preeclampsia

Manaphat Suksai, Roberto Romero, Mariachiara Bosco, Francesca Gotsch, Eunjung Jung, Piya Chaemsaithong, Adi L. Tarca, Dereje W. Gudicha, Nardhy Gomez-Lopez, Marcia Arenas-Hernandez, Arun Meyyazhagan, Lawrence I. Grossman, Siddhesh Aras, Tinnakorn Chaiworapongsa

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Objective: Preeclampsia, one of the most serious obstetric complications, is a heterogenous disorder resulting from different pathologic processes. However, placental oxidative stress and an anti-angiogenic state play a crucial role. Mitochondria are a major source of cellular reactive oxygen species. Abnormalities in mitochondrial structures, proteins, and functions have been observed in the placentae of patients with preeclampsia, thus mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the mechanism of the disease. Mitochondrial nuclear retrograde regulator 1 (MNRR1) is a newly characterized bi-organellar protein with pleiotropic functions. In the mitochondria, this protein regulates cytochrome c oxidase activity and reactive oxygen species production, whereas in the nucleus, it regulates the transcription of a number of genes including response to tissue hypoxia and inflammatory signals. Since MNRR1 expression changes in response to hypoxia and to an inflammatory signal, MNRR1 could be a part of mitochondrial dysfunction and involved in the pathologic process of preeclampsia. This study aimed to determine whether the plasma MNRR1 concentration of women with preeclampsia differed from that of normal pregnant women. Methods: This retrospective case–control study included 97 women with preeclampsia, stratified by gestational age at delivery into early (<34 weeks, n = 40) and late (≥34 weeks, n = 57) preeclampsia and by the presence or absence of placental lesions consistent with maternal vascular malperfusion (MVM), the histologic counterpart of an anti-angiogenic state. Women with an uncomplicated pregnancy at various gestational ages who delivered at term served as controls (n = 80) and were further stratified into early (n = 25) and late (n = 55) controls according to gestational age at venipuncture. Maternal plasma MNRR1 concentrations were determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results: 1) Women with preeclampsia at the time of diagnosis (either early or late disease) had a significantly higher median (interquartile range, IQR) plasma MNRR1 concentration than the controls [early preeclampsia: 1632 (924–2926) pg/mL vs. 630 (448–4002) pg/mL, p =.026, and late preeclampsia: 1833 (1441–5534) pg/mL vs. 910 (526–6178) pg/mL, p =.021]. Among women with early preeclampsia, those with MVM lesions in the placenta had the highest median (IQR) plasma MNRR1 concentration among the three groups [with MVM: 2066 (1070–3188) pg/mL vs. without MVM: 888 (812–1781) pg/mL, p =.03; and with MVM vs. control: 630 (448–4002) pg/mL, p =.04]. There was no significant difference in the median plasma MNRR1 concentration between women with early preeclampsia without MVM lesions and those with an uncomplicated pregnancy (p =.3). By contrast, women with late preeclampsia, regardless of MVM lesions, had a significantly higher median (IQR) plasma MNRR1 concentration than women in the control group [with MVM: 1609 (1392–3135) pg/mL vs. control: 910 (526–6178), p =.045; and without MVM: 2023 (1578–8936) pg/mL vs. control, p =.01]. Conclusions: MNRR1, a mitochondrial regulator protein, is elevated in the maternal plasma of women with preeclampsia (both early and late) at the time of diagnosis. These findings may reflect some degree of mitochondrial dysfunction, intravascular inflammation, or other unknown pathologic processes that characterize this obstetrical syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2297158
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • CHCHD2
  • early preeclampsia
  • intravascular inflammation
  • late preeclampsia
  • maternal vascular malperfusion
  • oxidative stress
  • placenta
  • pregnancy


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