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Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma as a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of preeclampsia.Preeclampsia is a multisystemic disorder of pregnancy characterized by hypertension, proteinuria, and maternal endothelial dysfunction. It is a major cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality and is thought to be attributable, in part, to inadequate trophoblast invasion. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-gamma) is a ligand-activated transcription factor expressed in trophoblasts, and the vasculature of which activation has been shown to improve endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in hypertensive conditions. We investigated the effects of the administration of a PPAR-gamma agonist using the reduced uterine perfusion pressure (RUPP) rat model of preeclampsia. The selective PPAR-gamma agonist, rosiglitazone, was administered to pregnant rats that had undergone RUPP surgery. To investigate whether any observed beneficial effects of PPAR-gamma activation were mediated by the antioxidant enzyme, heme oxygenase 1, rosiglitazone was administered in combination with the heme oxygenase 1 inhibitor tin-protoporphyrin IX. RUPP rats were characterized by hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, and elevated microalbumin:creatinine ratios. Rosiglitazone administration ameliorated hypertension, improved vascular function, and reduced the elevated microalbumin:creatinine ratio in RUPP rats. With the exception of microalbumin:creatinine ratio, these beneficial effects were abrogated in the presence of the heme oxygenase 1 inhibitor. Administration of a PPAR-gamma agonist prevented the development of several of the pathophysiological characteristics associated with the RUPP model of preeclampsia, via a heme oxygenase 1-dependent pathway. The findings from this study provide further insight into the underlying etiology of preeclampsia and a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of preeclampsia.