Immunohistochemical expression of oncological proliferation markers in the hearts of rats during normal pregnancy

Michele M. Ciulla, Giulia Acquistapace, Gianluca L. Perrucci, Paola Nicolini, Laura Toffetti, Paola Braidotti, Stefano Ferrero, Ileana Zucca, Domenico Aquino, Giuseppe Busca, Fabio Magrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Pregnancy is characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy that is potentially accounted for by cardiomyocyte proliferation, although no such evidence is currently available. This study investigates if the left ventricular mass (LVM) increase during pregnancy implies cell hyperplasia. Materials & methods: In nonpregnant and late-pregnant rats, cardiac function and LVM were evaluated by MRI, and cardiomyocyte dimensions and proliferations were assessed quantitatively by morphometric analysis and immunohistochemistry using oncological markers (Ki67 and MCM2). Results: In late-pregnant rats, LVM and cardiomyocyte area were greater. No mitotic figures were found nor was there any significant difference between groups in Ki67 expression. MCM2 expression was related to LVM. Conclusion: During pregnancy, rat cardiomyocytes undergo hypertrophy but not hyperplasia; the expression of MCM2, related to LVM, suggests it could be a marker of protein synthesis. The application of oncological markers to physiological contexts may provide insight into their role within the cell cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalBiomarkers in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • cardiomyocytes
  • hyperplasia
  • left ventricular hypertrophy
  • oncological proliferation markers
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Drug Discovery


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