JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Current concepts in the use of antioxidants for the treatment of preeclampsia

Jean-Fran├žois Bilodeau, Carl A Hubel
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: JOGC 2003, 25 (9): 742-50
12970809
Preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. It is a complex syndrome of undetermined etiologic origin, usually diagnosed during the second half of pregnancy, with clinical features of hypertension, proteinuria, and edema. No cure for preeclampsia exists, except premature delivery. There is increasing evidence that oxidative stress is an important contributing factor to the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as nitric oxide (NO*), superoxide anion (O2*-), and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and antioxidants, favouring an overabundance of ROS. The consequence of an overproduction of ROS can be observed as increased levels of markers of oxidative stress, such as lipid peroxides. Pregnant women affected by preeclampsia may have abnormal ROS production, particularly NO* and O2*-, abnormal levels of antioxidant defences, and increased placental lipid peroxidation. Several observations suggest that decreased bioavailability of endothelium-derived NO*, due to oxidative destruction of NO* by ROS, might contribute to the impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilatory responses and multisystemic pathology of preeclampsia, a phenomenon in which antioxidant vitamins may play a beneficial role. This review focuses on the rationale for vitamins C and E supplementation toward prevention of preeclampsia, with an emphasis on the limit of our scientific knowledge concerning the deleterious oxidative events taking place in this pathology.

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