Preeclampsia (PE) is a serious maternal inflammatory disease with endothelial cell dysfunction, and there is a lack of effective treatment and prevention. Tadalafil is considered to be a promising drug for PE. This study aimed to determine whether and how tadalafil use during early pregnancy alleviates PE induced by N-nitro-l-arginine-methyl-ester (l-NAME), an antagonist of nitric oxide synthase, in rats.
Twenty-eight Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were randomly divided into 4 equal groups on gestational day 0 (GD0): a pregnant control group, an l-NAME-treated PE group and two prophylactic low-dose and high-dose tadalafil groups. Blood pressure was measured on GD0, 5, 10, 15 and 20. Proteinuria was assessed on GD0 and 18. Femoral artery ultrasound was performed on GD19. Tissue sampling was performed on GD20. The perinatal outcomes, placenta and kidney tissue morphology, and endothelial and inflammatory markers were examined.
Prophylactic administration of low and high doses of tadalafil improved l-NAME induced hypertension, proteinuria, maternal weight loss during pregnancy, fetal growth restriction and flow-mediated dilatation, balanced endothelial-relative factors, and alleviated inflammation activation in placenta and kidney tissue. What’s more, in some results, the HT group performed better than the LT group.
Our results indicate that prophylactic use of tadalafil in l-NAME-induced PE-like rat models alleviates PE symptoms, promotes fetal growth, protects endothelial function and reduces inflammation, suggesting that tadalafil may be a potential drug for the prevention of PE.

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