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Fetal gene defects precipitate platelet-mediated pregnancy failure in factor V Leiden mothers


We describe a mouse model of fetal loss in factor V Leiden (FvL) mothers in which fetal loss is triggered when the maternal prothrombotic state coincides with fetal gene defects that reduce activation of the protein C anticoagulant pathway within the placenta. Fetal loss is caused by disruption of placental morphogenesis at the stage of labyrinth layer formation and occurs in the absence of overt placental thrombosis, infarction, or perfusion defects. Platelet depletion or elimination of protease-activated receptor 4 (Par4) from the mother allows normal placentation and prevents fetal loss. These findings establish a cause-effect relationship for the observed epidemiologic association between maternal FvL status and fetal loss and identify fetal gene defects as risk modifiers of pregnancy failure in prothrombotic mothers. Pregnancy failure is mediated by Par4-dependent activation of maternal platelets at the fetomaternal interface and likely involves a pathogenic pathway independent of occlusive thrombosis. Our results further demonstrate that the interaction of two given thrombosis risk factors produces markedly disparate consequences on disease manifestation (i.e., thrombosis or pregnancy loss), depending on the vascular bed in which this interaction occurs.

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