Pre‐eclampsia (PE) is a multisystem disorder commonly diagnosed in the latter half of
pregnancy and it is a leading cause of intrauterine fetal growth retardation (IUGR).
The aim of this study was to investigate the localization and the role of SPARC,
secreted protein acidic, and rich in cysteine, in PE and PE–IUGR placentas in
comparison with normal placentas. SPARC was mainly expressed in the villous and
extravillous cytotrophoblastic cells in first trimester, whereas in PE, PE–IUGR and at
term placentas, SPARC immunostaining was visible in both cytotrophoblastic cells
and syncytiotrophoblast. SPARC expression significantly decreased in normal
placenta from first to third trimester and a further significant reduction was
demonstrated in PE and PE–IUGR. The latter downregulation of SPARC depends on
hypoxic condition as shown by in vitro models. In conclusion, SPARC can play a
pivotal role in PE and PE–IUGR onset and it should be considered as a key molecule
for future investigations in such pathologies.