Apelin and its receptor APJ are expressed in fetal tissues but their function and regulation remain largely unknown. In rat, maternal treatment with a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor inducing hypertension was used to investigate apelin plasma levels in mother/fetus pairs and on the gene expression level of the apelin/APJ system in fetal tissues and placenta. At term, plasma levels of apelin were not modulated but APJ expression was increased in placenta and lung but reduced in heart. Apelin expression was increased only in the heart. We postulate that the apelinergic system may control fetal growth and cardiovascular functions in utero.
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